Spring 2012

Emotions: Motivation and Development


01/30/2012 - 05/04/2012
Monday 07:00 PM - 09:30 PM

Science Tower 139

Emotions have been described as reflecting the "wisdom of the ages" because of their biologically-rooted communicative and motivational importance. Emotions help prepare us for different courses of action - whether to run away, stay and attack, or even give up when necessary. Starting in early infancy, emotions help us communicate our basic needs and inform our efforts to make sense of why adults and other children behave the way they do. Yet, at the same time, emotions and emotional processes all too frequently become disrupted and problematic. In fact, emotional disturbances are central to how modern clinical psychologists understand a range of disorders, from anxiety and depression to behavior problems and psychopathy. The central focus of this class is on understanding how emotions can be both normative and adaptive to basic human functioning and yet also involved in almost every major form of psychopathology.

In the first part of the class we will examine functionalist, psycho-evolutionary theories of emotion (Ekman, Izard, & Plutchik) that concentrate on the adaptive side of emotions. Topics include the recognition and production of emotions, biological influences (such as temperament), emotion regulation, emotions and social competence, and methodological issues in emotion research. The second part of the class addresses some of the different ways that emotions are involved in psychopathology. Topics include emotional dysregulation, biological and socialization influences on emotional problems, and specific models of emotion disruption with a focus on angry/reactive aggression and "happier"/proactive aggression. Our discussion will also focus on both the adaptive and disruptive influences that emotions can have on academic motivation and performance.

Class sessions will typically include a lecture during the first part of the class, followed by breakout discussion groups and ad-hoc group summaries of discussion topics. In addition to lectures and class discussions, we will also see a couple of relevant movies and participate in one informal class experiment. During the last week, each student will give a brief oral summary of a theme related to his or her final research paper. Grading will be based on the class paper (10-12 pages) due one week after the end of class, as well as the class oral report and participation.

Enrollment is limited to 18 students.

This course is open to auditors.

The deadline to withdraw and receive a tuition refund for this course is Friday, February 3, 2012 at 5:00 pm. Please visit our website for a complete list of registration and withdrawal dates for this session.

A syllabus for this course is available at:
SCIE 614

William Arsenio (B.A. Brandeis University; M.A. University of California, Berkeley; Ph.D. Stanford University) is head ot he Developmental Psychology Program at Ferkauf Graduate School, Yeshiva University. He is a prolific writer in his field, with 4 articles currently in press and another 16 published recently. He is also an active speaker, having presented 16 papers during the past 9 years. Click here for more information about William Arsenio.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 14

Texts to purchase for this course:
Oatley, Keltner, & Jenkins, Understanding Emotions (2nd Ed.), Blackwell Press, ISBN 1-4051-3103-9

Reading Materials are available at BROAD STREET BOOKS, 45 Broad Street, Middletown, 860-685-7323 Order your books online

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Contact glsinquire@wesleyan.edu to submit comments or suggestions. 
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