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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Action readiness

The behavioural view of emotion is clearly limited and does insufficient justice to its richness. It has provided some useful behavioural information but over time has given way to the physiological and cognitive approaches. A relatively recent and promising consideration of the behavioural aspects of emotion comes from Frijda (1996; Mesquite & Frijda, 1994), who proposes that the behaviour in emotion comes from action readiness, or tendency. Frijda emphasizes potential behaviour rather than the behaviour itself. The central notion here is that emotion carries with it a readiness to behave in a general way, rather than necessarily being associated with particular behaviours. So, for example, fear might produce a tendency to run away or to hide, but there could be very many ways of running away or hiding. Also, as Frijda sees it, an action tendency might be suppressed or hidden behind some other behaviour, for social reasons. So we might feel like running away or hiding, but we do not because of the risk of loking foolish or cowardly. Clearly Frijda’s approach to emotion–behaviour links is very different from earlier ones. It is more subtle, more realistic and of more obvious relevance to human emotion.

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