The James-Lange theory was independently proposed by American psychologist William James in 1884 and Danish physiologist Carl Lange in 1885.

Core of the Theory:

Somatic and visceral changes occur when an emotional stimulus is perceived and our feeling of these same changes as they occur IS emotion.

e.g. We do not smile because we are happy, but our feeling of our smiling itself IS happiness.

James believed that without the somatic and visceral changes, the perception of a emotional stimulus would be purely cognitive and unemotional.

He suggested, for example, that on seeing a dangerous stimulus like a bear, we would analyze the threat and start running, but without the experience of bodily changes, we wouldn’t FEEL afraid.

The basic assumption of the theory is that

There can be NO emotional experience without the experience of somatic and visceral changes.

James argued that his theory can be challenged only if such a person can be studied who is deprived of all peripheral sensation, and if it is proved that he too can recognize emotional feelings like any normal individual.

Even if he did, James argued, he would never experience emotions in exactly the same way like any normal individuals.

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