Schachter, S., & Singer, J., Cognitive, Social, and Physiological
Determinants of Emotional State, Psychological Review, 1962,69,379-399.
Early studies showed that most emotions exhibited the same physicological
reactions. More recent studies have showed some discrimination between
The researchers hypothesize that "an emotional state may be considered
a function of a state of physiological arousal and of a cognition appropriate
to this state of arousal". "Cognitions arising from the immediate
situation as interpreted by past experience provide the framework wihin
which one understand and labels his feelings".
The authors were interested in what happens if you covertly induce a physiological
change in a subject, will they cognitively assign an emotional state to
their bodies' heightened arousal when they have no apparent causal reason
for their bodily changes?
However, if the person does have a causal reason (i.e., they know they are
receiving a drug) then they can rationalize the experience and won't have
an emotional reaction.
Conversely, if one inhibits the physiological changes, could a person be
in extreme danger and yet have no emotional response?
In other words, does a person react emotionally only when he experiences
They told subjects they were testing the effects of a vitamin supplement
on vision. Some subjects received an injection of epinephrine, a drug that
stimulates the sympathetic nervous system. Others received a placebo.
There were three conditions of "information"
1. Ephinephrine Informed: The subjects were told that the drug would have
some side effects like heart rate, face warm and flushed, etc.
2. Ephinephrine Ignorant: No information
3. Ephinephrine Misinformed: Told that they would feel numb, an itching
sensation, and a mild headache.
After the injections, they manipulated the emotional "fuel" of
the subjects by putting them in a room with a confederate that 1. behaved
euphorically (shooting paper wads into trash can, making paper airplanes)
and 2. behaved angrily (becomes increasingly angry over filling out a
They observed the subject through a one-way mirror. For every stage in
the stooge's act, the researcher evaluated the subjects state on a three
category scale. They also had the subject complete a questionnaire after
the stooge act in which a few questions were on emotional state. They also
took before and after heart rates as a physiological check.
Physiologically, the epinephrine had the desired effect of raising heart
rate and subject ratings of tremors and palpitations vs the placebo. Also,
the misinformed people didn't experience any sypathetic symptoms of headaches
or itchiness (compared to other groups).
In the euphoria condition, it was clear that "subjects were more susceptible
to the stooge's mood and consequently more euphoric when they had no explantion
of their own bodily states than when they did." The ranking was (low
euphoria to high): Epi Inf, Placebo, Epi Ign, Epi Mis. Based on behavior
observations they found the same results and rankings.
In the anger condition, the self-report data was suspect because the student's
didn't want to express anger to the experimenter about participating in
the test (i.e., they wanted to do more tests in the future!). But based
on behavior scores, people who were ignorant of the effects were mucn angrier
than those informed and the placebo.
From the results it seems clear that people will assign an emotion to a
physiological change based on the available emotions in the social situation.
In further tests, Schacter showed that they could increase amusement at
t slapstick move by drugs. In other words "Given a state of sympathetic
activiation, for which no immediately appropriate explanation is available,
human subjects can be readily manipulated into states of euphoria, anger,