Researchers have wondered how the brain creates emotions since the early days of psychological science. With a surge of studies in affective neuroscience in recent decades, scientists are poised to answer this question. In this target article, we present a meta-analytic summary of the neuroimaging literature on human emotion. We compare the locationist approach (i.e., the hypothesis that discrete emotion categories consistently and specifically correspond to distinct brain regions) with the psychological constructionist approach (i.e., the hypothesis that discrete emotion categories (...) are constructed of more general brain networks not specific to those categories) to better understand the brain basis of emotion. We review both locationist and psychological constructionist hypotheses of brain–emotion correspondence and report meta-analytic findings bearing on these hypotheses. Overall, we found little evidence that discrete emotion categories can be consistently and specifically localized to distinct brain regions. Instead, we found evidence that is consistent with a psychological constructionist approach to the mind: A set of interacting brain regions commonly involved in basic psychological operations of both an emotional and non-emotional nature are active during emotion experience and perception across a range of discrete emotion categories. (shrink)
In this review, we highlight evidence suggesting that concepts represented in language are used to create a perception of emotion from the constant ebb and flow of other people’s facial muscle movements. In this “construction hypothesis,” (cf. Gendron, Lindquist, Barsalou, & Barrett, 2012) (see also Barrett, 2006b; Barrett, Lindquist, & Gendron, 2007; Barrett, Mesquita, & Gendron, 2011), language plays a constitutive role in emotion perception because words ground the otherwise highly variable instances of an emotion category. We demonstrate that language (...) plays a constitutive role in emotion perception by discussing findings from behavior, neuropsychology, development, and neuroimaging. We close by discussing implications of a constructionist view for the science of emotion. (shrink)
Over a century ago, William James outlined the first psychological constructionist model of emotion, arguing that emotions are phenomena constructed of more basic psychological parts. In this article, I outline a modern psychological constructionist model of emotion. I first explore the history of psychological construction to demonstrate that psychological constructionist models have historically emerged in an attempt to explain variability in emotion that cannot be accounted for by other approaches. I next discuss the modern psychological constructionist model of emotion that (...) I take in my own research, outlining its hypotheses, existing empirical support, and areas of future research. I conclude by arguing that psychological constructionist models can help scientists better understand the human mind. (shrink)
Although early emotion theorists posited that bodily changes contribute to emotion, the primary view in affective science over the last century has been that emotions produce bodily changes. Recent findings from physiology, neuroscience, and neuropsychology support the early intuition that body representations can help constitute emotion. These findings are consistent with the modern psychological constructionist hypothesis that emotions emerge when representations of bodily changes are conceptualized as an instance of emotion. We begin by introducing the psychological constructionist approach to emotion. (...) With Schachter as inspiration, we next examine how embodied representations contribute to affective states, and ultimately emotion, with inflammation as a key example. We close by looking forward to future research on how body representations contribute to human experience. (shrink)
In our response, we clarify important theoretical differences between basic emotion and psychological construction approaches. We evaluate the empirical status of the basic emotion approach, addressing whether it requires brain localization, whether localization can be observed with better analytic tools, and whether evidence for basic emotions exists in other types of measures. We then revisit the issue of whether the key hypotheses of psychological construction are supported by our meta-analytic findings. We close by elaborating on commentator suggestions for future research.
Situation selection involves choosing situations based on their likely emotional impact and may be less cognitively taxing or challenging to implement compared to other strategies for regulating emotion, which require people to regulate their emotions “in the moment”; we thus predicted that individuals who chronically experience intense emotions or who are not particularly competent at employing other emotion regulation strategies would be especially likely to benefit from situation selection. Consistent with this idea, we found that the use of situation selection (...) interacted with individual differences in emotional reactivity and competence at emotion regulation to predict emotional outcomes in both a correlational and an experimental field study. Taken together, the findings suggest that situation selection is an effective strategy for regulating emotions, especially for individuals who otherwise struggle to do so. (shrink)
Lindquist et al. convincingly argue that the brain implements psychological operations that are constitutive of emotion rather than modules subserving discrete emotions. However, the nature of such psychological operations is open to debate. I argue that considering appraisal theories may provide alternative interpretations of the neuroimaging data with respect to the psychological operations involved.
We point out that constructionist models from experimental psychology account for the sociocultural, psychological, and neural levels of analysis in emotion. Individual constructionist models form a “metamodel” that integrates the levels of analysis important to a science of emotion. By clarifying the multilevel nature of constructionism, we hope to help lay a strong foundation for future cross-disciplinary collaborations.
As Wierzbicka suggests in her recent review, language is powerful in emotion. Wierzbicka's solution is to remove the linguistically relative aspects of emotion concepts, like icing from a cake, to reveal the universal meanings below. In the present commentary, I suggest that language is a more fundamental ingredient in emotion than Wierzbicka's solution assumes; language can be no more removed from emotion, than flour can be removed from an already baked cake. As an alternate solution, I present a constructionist view (...) of emotion, which not only recognizes the role of language in emotion, but also predicts and models its impact as language constitutes emotion experience. (shrink)
We agree that conceptualisation is key in understanding the brain basis of emotion. We argue that by conflating facial emotion recognition with subjective emotion experience, Lindquist et al. understate the importance of biological predisposition in emotion. We use examples from the anxiety disorders to illustrate the distinction between these two phenomena, emphasising the importance of both emotional hardware and contextual learning.