Author William Lyons has proposed a new theory, different from those established until then, around emotion..
With this article, we will get to know better the proposition that Lyons put on the table to be able to give a coherent explanation to one of the most important psychological phenomena, such as human emotions and their differences with other theories in this. field.
Lyon’s causal-evaluative theory and the conflict of emotions
Lyon causal-evaluative theory is part of the psycho-cognitive theories that try to offer an explanatory and predictive framework of human emotions. Emotions have always been a very controversial subject, which has generated very diverse opinions in different schools of psychology in an attempt to lay the groundwork for this phenomenon.
This controversy could be generated by several factors. To begin with, it is a particularly complex subject. In addition, emotions contrast with our most logical and analytical part, that of reason. This is why Lyons’ causal-evaluative theory is an attempt to give a plausible explanation.
The great diversity of emotions that any human being can feel at any time of his life poses a number of puzzles for researchers to solve. For example, what is the function of these in a being with a reasoning as developed as the human being. We might as well ask ourselves what causes them.
Later, we will see how Lyon’s causal-evaluative theory tries to accommodate this phenomenon. We must keep in mind that everything that surrounds the affective phenomena of humans is enveloped in an aura of complexity. Even if we stop thinking about just describing a particular feeling, we realize how complex it is to express in words what an emotion is.
So there is a dichotomy in this regard: going to find out what a certain emotion is and having experienced it countless times in life, but at the same time it is a very difficult concept to define and much more to explain, Which has led to the creation of many different psychological models, including Lyon’s causal-evaluative theory.
Not only is there this variety of models, but each of them uses a different system to be able to study and explain emotions, based on methodologies as diverse as individual introspection, behavior analysis. in a given population sample or even neuroscientific studies that attempt to shed light on the brain mechanisms behind our feelings.
What is Lyon’s causal-evaluative theory?
Causal-Evaluative Theory was mentioned by author William Lyons in his publication Emotion, in essay form, in 1980. Lyons decided to create his own model because of its discrepancies with all the theories published up to the date, which seems to him incomplete or unsatisfactory for a question as important as that of explaining the why of emotions.
In his new approach, Lyons is developing a system based on 6 points, which we will see below.
1. Emotion as a state
The first point made by Lyons’ causal-evaluative theory is that the study must be done taking into account the emotion as a state, or what is the same, the emotional state of the individual. This concept makes it possible to focus on the concrete fact and not to take as a reference the abstract conception of emotion itself.
Therefore, the emotional state will allow us to analyze the specific situation in which he was born, what are the physiological manifestations that the individual has experienced as a result of this state, the causes that have occurred previously and that may have facilitate the progress of this state. emotion in the person and any other variable we want to analyze.
The other side would be dispositional type emotion, which would refer to a characteristic trait of the person or a predisposition to feel emotions or feelings of a certain type. These types of emotions, according to Lyons’ causal-evaluative theory, do not serve us to make predictions about the possible reactions in the subject, because they could be generated by the dispositional emotion or not.
2. Associated physiological changes
When we focus on emotion as a given state of a particular moment, we can come and assess the changes at the physiological level that the individual is experiencing because of itAs it is apparently easy to discern between its baseline state and the changes that have occurred as a result of experiencing the specific emotion that we are analyzing.
Lyons’ causal-evaluative theory states that it is these changes that the individual observes in the body that make it possible to speak of an emotion as such. But not only that, but the changes are preceded by an evaluation that the subject makes of the situation he is experiencing. This evaluation is also essential so that one can establish the concept of emotion in the reaction that the individual has experienced.
Logically, emotions affect people in very different ways and can also be experienced gradually. In fact, we may not feel the physiological changes, but this does not detract from the validity of the emotion experienced by the subject. For Lyons’ causal-evaluative theory, it is not essential that this succession always occur between the individual’s appreciation of the situation and the changes perceived in the body..
The important thing in this sense is that this phenomenon occurs frequently, that is to say that we find most of the time the physiological signals associated with the emotion, after the evaluation made by the person.
3. Differences between emotions
To be able to speak about different emotions according to the causal-evaluative theory of Lyon, the key lies in the person’s assessment of the situation. It is here and only here that we find the element of differentiation, although all the other questions adjacent to this whole procedure may throw some clues, sometimes very valuable, into the meaning of emotion.
Thus, for Lyon, the behavior of the subject resulting from the lived experience, his gestures, in particular facial expressions, verbal and non-verbal communication, as well as other signals, will offer the researcher some clues as to the type of concrete emotion. . experienced by the subject in question, however it will only be the balance sheet that he will realize the key to be able to achieve a correct classification.
4. The importance of desire
Another of the keys that Lyon’s causal-evaluative theory puts on the table to be able to identify emotions is the concept of desire. For Lyons, desire is a problem inherent in certain emotions and therefore is a problem in addition to both assessment and physiological changes., When it comes to conducting a study that allows us to identify the emotional state experienced.
A very clear example concerns the emotion of fear. When a person experiences an emotional state of fear, the most logical thing to do is to subconsciously generate a desire, in this case to flee, to get away from the threatening stimulus. But it can also happen with positive emotions such as love. In this case, there is also desire, but in a different direction, since the subject wants to approach the element that awakens such a good feeling.
For Lyons’ causal-evaluative theory, therefore, desire is essential to be able to say that you are experiencing this type of emotion. If we could not find this element, there would be only two possibilities: either the emotion did not pass in the person, or the individual could not identify it correctly.
Likewise, if he says he feels but in reality he is not, we would be faced with a misidentification of the emotion, which may come from a mistake of the person himself in perceiving this desire or even a lie, if I was affirming it knowingly knowing that it is not so.
5. The guide to behaviour
We have already seen how Lyon’s causal-evaluative theory identifies emotions. But just as important are the behaviors generated by the emotional state. What Lyons claims is that we cannot define rigid behavioral response models to a given emotion, but behaviors go through a rational filter, Guided by the desires generated by the emotion and by the valuation of this one.
6. Beyond evaluation
Finally, Lyons’ causal-evaluative theory makes it clear that while a key importance is placed on the concept of a person’s evaluation of emotion, we should not conclude that emotions completely escape the concepts of objectivity.
- Lyons, W. (1993). Emotion. Anthropos. Editorial from the Home.
- Sartre, JP, Acheroff, M. (1973). Sketch of a theory of emotions. Thought library.
- Vigotsky, LS (2004). Theory of emotions: historical-psychological study. Akal Publishing.