Success or error & Emotion Display

Tim Carey (221096.0800)--

Powers claims that an emotion is the
combination of a goal and a feeling and then goes on to say that there
must also be a blocking of action before a state would be described as
emotional. Does this just apply to negative emotions?

[ Bill Powers (961023.0530 MDT)]

I think so -- I don't think you feel pleasure more intensely when you're
prevented from carrying out the implied behavior. It's more as though
successful behavior is its own reward, with the feelings that accompany it
being labeled "good" because they go with success. Of course this doesn't
cover the pleasant bodily feelings, which are, according to the official
story, caused by internal morphine ("endorphines"). Pleasure can certainly
be chemically simulated, but I suspect that kind of pleasure is like
simulating a race in a car by operating the speedometer needle with the car
sitting in the garage. The subject of positive emotions needs a good deal
more sorting out. Any ideas?

What about our experience and display of emotion when we witness the
success or failure of another person or group of persons for whom we wish
the best possible outcome. For example, fans who identify with a team can
do little or nothing to affect the actual play of the team or the final
score of a game. But is it not possible that fans control for the
perception of similar outcomes as those of the team members themselves,
even though the fans cannot directly affect the outcome or the team
member's perceptions? Home team fans cheer and applaud when their team
makes completes a forward pass, scores a touchdown (gets a hit, executes a
successful double-play); conversely, they groan or moan after their team
members' muff a handoff, or their quarterback is sacked, or when a team
member strikes-out or fumbles an easy grounder. These emotion displays
are readily observable as are their cheers for the opposing team's failures
and groans for the opponents' successes. Less readily observable are the
smiles upon our "experience" of pleasure at perceiving the success of a
child, a spouse or close friend frowns and grimaces that
following/accompany the "experience" of sadness when perceiving they are
injured or that they fail at something we know is very important to them.

In short, these blatant or subtle emotion displays certainly seem to
accompany or follow what I experience at the point of comparing the
perception against the reference perception for which I have been
controlling (whether it is my own actions or observing the actions of
someone in whom I have an interest.) But I don't know where or how this
is taking place in "the loop" or in a set of connecting loops within or
across levels. Can Bill or Rick or Bruce, anyone, comment on whether you
have observed, experienced or thought about the phenomena to which I refer.
Am I on course or have I missed something terribly important.

Clark McPhail, Ph.D.
Professor of Sociology
Director, Collective Action Project
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
326 Lincoln Hall (MC 454)
702 S. Wright
Urbana, IL 61801

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