Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Professor L. Siegel
A method of examining how emotions might affect learned behaviour was developed and thre hypotheses concerning the possible effects of emotions were investigated. The first was that emotions may have state-dependent properties by which they affect the display of learned behaviour. A behaviour learned in the context of a particular emotion may be more likely to occur when that same emotion is experienced subsequently. This hypothesis was supported by the finding that four-year-old children responded non-aggressively when frustrated if this behaviour had previously been learned in the context of frustration. They did not respond aggressively when frustrated if aggression had been learned in the context of non-frustration. The second hypothesis was that behaviour learned during emotional arousal is more likely to occur subsequently, perhaps because it is better remembered, than is behaviour learned in a less emotional situation. This hypothesis was only partially supported. The third hypothesis was that some behaviours are prepared responses and are more likely to be learned in the context of some emotions than are other behaviours. There is evidence suggesting that aggression might be more easily learned or displayed in the context of frustration than non-aggressive behaviours. This hypothesis was not supported. Although there was a consistent sex difference in aggression, the amount of aggression by either sex was not affected by the presence of frustration, either during learning or testing.
The results support the usefulness of the methodology and indicate that emotions affect the display of voluntary, purposeful behaviour, especially in a state- or context-dependent manner. Some implications of these results for the study of emotions, as well as criticisms of the thesis experiments, are discussed.
Shattuck, Donald Harvey, "Emotion and Behaviour" (1988). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 2056.