The most realistic perspective on emotional experience

Emotions have a tremendous influence on human behaviors. Strong emotions might force you to do things you wouldn’t typically do or avoid circumstances you’d rather not be in. Why do we have emotions in the first place? What leads us to feel this way? Researchers, historians, and psychologists have presented various ideas to address the how and why of human emotions. In this article, we will talk about the realistic perspective on emotional experience.

What is the most realistic perspective on emotional experience?

Psychology frequently characterizes emotion as complicated feelings resulting in bodily and psychological alterations that impact thinking and behavior. Emotionality is linked to various psychological variables such as temperament, attitude, mood, and drive. Human emotion consists of “physiological arousal, expressive actions, and conscious thought.”

Emotion theories are classified into physiological, neurological, and cognitive. According to physiological theories, emotions are caused by reactions inside the body. According to neurological theories, brain functioning causes emotional reactions. 

The Physical Basis of Emotion

According to cognitive theories, ideas, and other mental activities are essential in forming emotions. William James makes it apparent from the opening phrase of “The Physical Basis of Emotion” that the article focuses on the human experience of emotion. In all of these works, his explicit goal was to demonstrate how particular “feelings” (the direct experience of the “coarser” emotions) are elicited in the conscious mind. However, James-Lange’s theory swiftly eluded these repeated attempts at definitional constraint. It has been variously understood and extended by others and has served as a guiding force, a lightning rod for criticism—for eras of emotion researchers.

This point of view adumbrates that background, evaluating the theory’s roots in philosophical psychology, demonstrating how reactions to James’s viewpoint impacted the course of emotion studies in this century, and concluding with a few thoughts about how psychologists today might recognize James Lange’s theory (Lang, 1994).

Which theory suggests that the experience of emotion?

As “experience” was the traditional purview of philosophy, hypotheses in emerging science overlapped significantly with previous philosophical speculation. Furthermore, although highly advanced and uniquely stated, these scientific theories shared folk psychology precepts. The reported mental life’s ideas, visions, feelings, hopes, and aspirations were counted as substantive truths. For individuals who were scientifically minded at the time, emotions, for example, were either unchangeable primordial things or raw data to be analyzed.


James chose the latter perspective that feelings needed to be explained, not unexpectedly; the first critic he addressed in the 1894 articulation of James-Lange theory was one of psychology’s significant founders, Wilhelm Wundt. Wundt considered emotions (Gefuhle) as primal, unanalyzable, and analogous to primordial visual or auditory perceptions. Wundt acknowledged that distinct Gefuhle might be joined or advanced, physiological changes could have a secondary impact, and the ensuing wide Affekt constituted a complicated mental process.

However, he held that initially experienced sensations were the genesis and primordial nature of the emotion. William James, like Wundt, was aware of the value of conscious sentiments. However, he claimed that emotional sensations were not absolutes. They were secondary phenomena triggered by the experience of somatic and visceral alterations produced more or less effectively by external stimuli (Lang, Bradley & Cuthbert, 1990).

Check the following reference articles to learn more about the most realistic perspective on emotional experience.

Cannon, W. B. (1927). The James-Lange theory of emotions: A critical examination and an alternative theory. The American Journal of Psychology, 39(1/4), 106.

Lang, P. J., Bradley, M. M., & Cuthbert, B. N. (1990). Emotion, attention, and the startle reflex. Psychological Review, 97(3), 377-395.

Lang, P. J. (1994). The varieties of emotional experience: a meditation on James-Lange theory. Psychological review, 101(2), 211.

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