Commentaries on “Effector patterns of basic emotions”

ARTICULOS_INGLESCommentaries on “Effector patterns of basic emotions” By Susana Bloch, Pedro Orthus & Guy Santibáñez.

This paper makes a significant contribution toward formally and explicitly relating research on emotional expression to the phenomenon of acting. George Burns once remarked that the secret to being a good actor is honesty: 'If you can fake that', he said, 'you've got it made'. The ease with which humans and other animals can convincingly fake emotional expression is remarkable. There is evidence for specific neural mechanisms allowing monkeys to voluntarily initiate (without apparent affect) calls that are identical on the sound spectrograph to spontaneous emotional calls (see Jurgens, 1979; Ploog, 1981). Such a 'built-in' ability for affective lying is probably necessary for the maintenance of orderly social relations. Acting builds upon this ability, but this paper makes it clear that the convincing expression of emotion in a dramatic context requires much more. One of the important theoretical points raised by this paper involves the question of the relationship between emotional expression and experience, for the question of the role of peripheral feedback in emotional experience continues to evoke controversy. One can argue that any peripheral response can become able to alter emotional experience through proprioceptive and interoceptive conditioning (Buck, 1980). One of the implications of this view is that through extinction or counter-conditioning, the experience should become decoupled from the expression. This may be what happened when the actors repeatedly 'stepped out' of the emotional pattern, and it could conceivably result in a protective bypassing of subjective involvement, as the authors suggest. One question that must be asked of this, as well as any method of tr4ining or altering emotional expression, concerns the specificity of effect. Does the technique work because of the specific effects of the training or because of more general placebo effects, relaxation effects, and/or eduction of attention to internal bodily processes? Studies of biofeedback suggest that expected gains may often be due to non-specific effects (see Andrasik & Holroyd. 1983). In any event. the approach taken by this paper is valuable in that it seeks systematically to describe emotional expression in a way which recognizes the simultaneous importance of body movement, breathing, and vocalization as well as facial expression. The criterion of success-the ability convincingly to express complex emotion in a dramatic context-is unique, and the possibility of a notation system based on this system is intriguing.

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