In psychology, affect display or affective display is a subject’s externally displayed affect. The display can be by facial, vocal, or gestural means (APA 2006, p. 26). When displayed affect is different from the subjective affect, it is incongruent affect. Some professionals use the term “affect” to mean “affect display”.
Affect display refers to the impetus for observable expression of emotion; for the human being that expression or feeling displayed to others through facial expressions, hand gestures, tone of voice and other emotional signs such as laughter or tears is a part of a series of non-conscious or conscious cognitive events. Many aspects of the expressions vary between and within cultures and are displayed in various forms ranging from the most discreet of facial expressions to the most dramatic and prolific gestures (Batson, 1992).
Affect display is also a critical facet of communication in the social domain. Interpersonal communication is colored by displayed affect and there are various theories on affective reactions to stimuli to include conscious and non-conscious reaction and positive or negative affect.
Affect can be taken to indicate an instinctual reaction to stimulation occurring before the typical cognitive processes considered necessary for the formation of a more complex emotion. Robert B. Zajonc asserts that this reaction to stimuli is primary for human beings and is the dominant reaction for lower organisms. Zajonc suggests affective reactions can occur without extensive perceptual and cognitive encoding, and can be made sooner and with greater confidence than cognitive judgments (Zajonc, 1980).
Lazarus (1982) considers affect to be post-cognitive. That is, affect is elicited only after a certain amount of cognitive processing of information has been accomplished. In this view, an affective reaction, such as liking, disliking, evaluation, or the experience of pleasure or displeasure, is based on a prior cognitive process in which a variety of content discriminations are made and features are identified, examined for their value, and weighted for their contributions (Brewin, 1989).
A divergence from a narrow reinforcement model for emotion allows for other perspectives on how affect influences emotional development. Thus, temperament, cognitive development, socialization patterns, and the idiosyncrasies of one’s family or subculture are mutually interactive in non-linear ways. As an example, the temperament of a highly reactive, low self-soothing infant may “disproportionately” affect the process of emotion regulation in the early months of life (Griffiths, 1997).
Non-conscious affect and perception
In relation to perception, a type of non-conscious affect may be separate from the cognitive processing of environmental stimuli. A monoheirarchy of perception, affect and cognition considers the roles of arousal, attentional tendencies, affective primacy (Zajonc, 1980), evolutionary constraints (Shepard, 1984; 1994), and covert perception (Weiskrantz, 1997) within the sensing and processing of preferences and discriminations. Emotions are complex chains of events triggered by certain stimuli. There is no way to completely describe an emotion by knowing only some of its components. Verbal reports of feelings are often inaccurate because people may not know exactly what they feel, or they may feel several different emotions at the same time. There are also situations that arise in which individuals attempt to hide their feelings, and there are some who believe that public and private events seldom coincide exactly, and that words for feelings are generally more ambiguous than are words for objects or events.
Affective responses, on the other hand, are more basic and may be less problematical in terms of assessment. Brewin has proposed two experiential processes that frame non-cognitive relations between various affective experiences: those that are prewired dispositions (i.e., non-conscious processes), able to “select from the total stimulus array those stimuli that are casually relevant, using such criteria as perceptual salience, spatiotemporal cues, and predictive value in relation to data stored in memory” (Brewin, 1989, p. 381), and those that are automatic (i.e., subconscious processes), characterized as “rapid, relatively inflexible and difficult to modify… (requiring) minimal attention to occur and… (capable of being) activated without intention or awareness” (1989 p. 381).
Arousal is a basic physiological response to the presentation of stimuli. When this occurs, a non-conscious affective process takes the form of two control mechanisms; one mobilization, and the other immobilization. Within the human brain, the amygdala regulates an instinctual reaction initiating this arousal process, either freezing the individual or accelerating mobilization.
The arousal response is illustrated in studies focused on reward systems that control food-seeking behavior (Balliene, 2005). Researchers focused on learning processes and modulatory processes that are present while encoding and retrieving goal values. When an organism seeks food, the anticipation of reward based on environmental events becomes another influence on food seeking that is separate from the reward of food itself. Therefore, earning the reward and anticipating the reward are separate processes and both create an excitatory influence of reward-related cues. Both processes are dissociated at the level of the amygdale and are functionally integrated within larger neural systems.
Affect and mood
Mood, like emotion, is an affective state. However, an emotion tends to have a clear focus (i.e., a self-evident cause), while mood tends to be more unfocused and diffused. Mood, according to Batson, Shaw, and Oleson (1992), involves tone and intensity and a structured set of beliefs about general expectations of a future experience of pleasure or pain, or of positive or negative affect in the future. Unlike instant reactions that produce affect or emotion, and that change with expectations of future pleasure or pain, moods, being diffused and unfocused, and thus harder to cope with, can last for days, weeks, months, or even years (Schucman, 1975). Moods are hypothetical constructs depicting an individual’s emotional state. Researchers typically infer the existence of moods from a variety of behavioral referents (Blechman, 1990).
Positive affect and negative affect represent independent domains of emotion in the general population, and positive affect is strongly linked to social interaction. Positive and negative daily events show independent relationships to subjective well-being, and positive affect is strongly linked to social activity. Recent research suggests that “high functional support is related to higher levels of positive affect” (Blechman, 1990). The exact process through which social support is linked to positive affect remains unclear. The process could derive from predictable, regularized social interaction, from leisure activities where the focus is on relaxation and positive mood, or from the enjoyment of shared activities.
Gender and affective displays
Research has indicated many differences in affective displays due to gender. Gender, as opposed to sex, is one’s self-perception of being masculine or feminine (i.e., a male can perceive himself to be more feminine or a female can perceive herself to be more masculine). It can also be argued, however, that hormones (typically determined by sex) greatly affect affective displays and mood.
Affect and the present moment
In the book, The Stillness of the Mind, Eckhart focuses on self-awareness and the perception of the present that leads to a cognitive, conscious affective state of the human condition. This present-moment consciousness of affect includes various stimuli processed within the framework of cultures, organizations, and environments, all of which contribute toward the development of the emotional state of the human organism (Tolle, 1999, 2003).
Meanings in art
The difference between the externally observable affect and the internal mood has been implicitly accepted in art and indeed, within language itself. The word “giddy,” for example, carries within it the connotation that the characterized individual may be displaying a happiness that the speaker/observer believes either insincere or short-living.
Psychologists consider affective processes to be the basis of feelings and emotions. Feelings are the result of affect, arousal, cognition, and perception in the present moment and within the social environment for human beings.
Affect is considered by some social scientists and psychologists to be a critical building block of feelings and emotions in both conscious and non-conscious states. Some argue that affect is pre-cognitive and some contend that affect is post-cognitive, based on likes, dislikes, preferences, and sensation. Affect is also a factor in emotional development, mood, arousal, and consideration of the present moment.
The influence of affect on human behavior ranges from primal, instinctual reaction and arousal to post-cognitive consideration of one’s own mortality and mood. This elemental, sensorial building block of emotion plays a critical role in the human communicative processes within the social and psychological domains.
Affective science is the scientific study of emotion or affect. This includes the study of emotion elicitation, emotional experience and the recognition of emotions in others. In particular the nature of feeling, mood, emotionally driven behaviour, decision making, attention and self-regulation, as well as the underlying physiology and neuroscience of the emotions.
An increasing interest in emotion can be seen in the behavioral, biological and social sciences. Research over the last two decades suggests that many phenomena, ranging from individual cognitive processing to social and collective behavior, cannot be understood without taking into account affective determinants (i.e. motives, attitudes, moods, and emotions). Just as the “cognitive revolution” of the 60s spawned the “cognitive sciences” and linked the disciplines studying cognitive functioning from different vantage points, the emerging field of affective science seeks to bring together the disciplines which study the biological, psychological, and social dimensions of affect. In particular affective science includes psychology, neuroscience, sociology, psychiatry, anthropology, ethology, archaeology, economics, criminology, law, political science, history, geography, education and linguistics. Research is also informed by contemporary philosophical analysis and artistic explorations of emotions.
The major challenge for this interdisciplinary domain is to integrate research focusing on the same phenomenon, emotion and similar affective processes, starting from different perspectives, theoretical backgrounds, and levels of analysis. As a result one of the first challenges of affective science is to reach consensus on the definition of emotions. Discussion is still ongoing as to whether emotions are primarily bodily responses or whether cognitive processing should be placed central. Controversy also concerns the most effective ways to measure emotions and conceptualise how one emotion can differ from another. Examples of this include the dimensional models of Russell and others, the emotion wheel of Plutchik, and the general distinction between basic and complex emotions.
Whether scientific method is at all suited for the study of the subjective aspect of emotion, feelings, is a question for philosophy of science and epistemology. In practise, the use of self report (i.e. questionnaires) has been widely adopted by researchers. Additionally, web-based research is being used to conduct large-scale studies on the components of happiness for example. Alongside this researchers also use fMRI, EEG and physiological measures of skin conductance, muscle tension and hormone secretion. This hybrid approach should allow researchers to gradually pinpoint the affective phenomenon.
A common way to measure the emotions of others is via their emotional expressions. These include facial expression, vocal expression and bodily posture. Much work has also gone into coding expressive behaviour computer programmes can be used to read the subject’s emotion more reliably. The model used for facial expression is the Facial Action Coding System or ‘FACS’. An influential figure in the development of this system was Paul Ekman. For criticism, see the conceptual-act model of emotion.
These behavioural sources can be contrasted with language descriptive of emotions. In both respects one may observe the way that affective display differs from culture to culture.
Physiology is the science of the function of living systems. It is a subcategory of biology. In physiology, the scientific method is applied to determine how organisms, organ systems, organs, cells and biomolecules carry out the chemical or physical function that they have in a living system. The word physiology is from Ancient Greek: φύσις, physis, “nature, origin”; and -λογία, -logia, “study of”.
Human physiology is the science of the mechanical, physical, and biochemical functions of humans in good health, their organs, and the cells of which they are composed. The principal level of focus of physiology is at the level of organs and systems within systems. Much of the foundation of knowledge in human physiology was provided by animal experimentation. Physiology is closely related to anatomy; anatomy is the study of form, and physiology is the study of function. Due to the frequent connection between form and function physiology and anatomy are intrinsically linked and are studied in tandem as part of a medical curriculum.
Human physiology dates back to at least 420 B.C. and the time of Hippocrates, the father of medicine. The critical thinking of Aristotle and his emphasis on the relationship between structure and function marked the beginning of physiology in Ancient Greece, while Claudius Galenus (c. 126-199 A.D.), known as Galen, was the first to use experiments to probe the function of the body. Galen was the founder of experimental physiology. The ancient Indian books of Ayurveda, the Sushruta Samhita and Charaka Samhita, also had descriptions on human anatomy and physiology. The medical world moved on from Galenism only with the appearance of Andreas Vesalius and William Harvey.
During the Middle Ages, the ancient Greek and Indian medical traditions were further developed by Muslim physicians, most notably Avicenna (980-1037), who introduced experimentation and quantification into the study of physiology in The Canon of Medicine. Many of the ancient physiological doctrines were eventually discredited by Ibn al-Nafis (1213–1288), who was the first physician to correctly describe the anatomy of the heart, the coronary circulation, the structure of the lungs, and the pulmonary circulation, for which he is considered the father of circulatory physiology. He was also the first to describe the relationship between the lungs and the aeration of the blood, the cause of pulsation, and an early concept of capillary circulation.
Following from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance brought an increase of physiological research in the Western world that triggered the modern study of anatomy and physiology. Andreas Vesalius was an author of one of the most influential books on human anatomy, De humani corporis fabrica. Vesalius is often referred to as the founder of modern human anatomy. Anatomist William Harvey described the circulatory system in the 17th century, demonstrating the fruitful combination of close observations and careful experiments to learn about the functions of the body, which was fundamental to the development of experimental physiology. Herman Boerhaave is sometimes referred to as a father of physiology due to his exemplary teaching in Leiden and textbook Institutiones medicae (1708).
In the 18th century, important works in this field were by Pierre Cabanis, a french doctor and physiologist.
In the 19th century, physiological knowledge began to accumulate at a rapid rate, particularly with the 1838 appearance of the Cell theory of Matthias Schleiden and Theodor Schwann. It radically stated that organisms are made up of units called cells. Claude Bernard‘s (1813–1878) further discoveries ultimately led to his concept of milieu interieur (internal environment), which would later be taken up and championed as “homeostasis” by American physiologist Walter Cannon (1871–1945).
In the 20th century, biologists also became interested in how organisms other than human beings function, eventually spawning the fields of comparative physiology and ecophysiology. Major figures in these fields include Knut Schmidt-Nielsen and George Bartholomew. Most recently, evolutionary physiology has become a distinct subdiscipline.
The biological basis of the study of physiology, integration refers to the overlap of many functions of the systems of the human body, as well as its accompanied form. It is achieved through communication which occurs in a variety of ways, both electrical and chemical.
In terms of the human body, the endocrine and nervous systems play major roles in the reception and transmission of signals which integrate function. Homeostasis is a major aspect with regards to the interactions within an organism, humans included..