and Singer developed the two-factor theory of emotion.
The two-factor theory suggests that emotion comes from a
combination of a state of arousal and a cognition that makes
best sense of the situation the person is in.
For example, the two-factor theory of emotion argues that when
people become aroused they look for cues as to why they feel the way they
aim of the study is to test the two-factor theory of emotion.
From the aim three propositions (or
hypotheses) were devised:
If a person experiences a state of arousal for which they have no
immediate explanation, they will label this state and describe their
feelings in terms of the cognitions available to them at the time.
If a person experiences a state of arousal for which they have an
appropriate explanation (e.g. ‘I
feel this way because I have just received an injection of adrenalin’),
then they will be unlikely to label their feelings in terms of the
alternative cognitions available.
If a person is put in a situation, which in the past could have
made them feel an emotion, they will react emotionally or experience
emotions only if they are in a state of physiological arousal.
participants were 184 male college students, taking classes in
introductory psychology at Minnesota University.
90% of which received two extra points on their final exam
for every hour they served as subjects.
The subjects’ health records were checked to make sure that the adrenalin would not have an adverse effect.
method used was a laboratory experiment with independent measures.
There were two independent variables. The information
about the adrenalin injection given to the subjects, and the situation
they are put in (euphoria situation or anger situation).
first independent variable (information about the adrenalin injection
given to the subjects) was manipulated in the following way
soon as the participant arrived, he was taken to a private room by the
experimenter and told that the aim of the experiment was ‘to look at the
effects of vitamin injections on visual skills’, and was asked if he
would mind having an injection of ‘Suproxin’ (made up name).
out of 195 subjects agreed to the injection.
They were given an injection (by a doctor) of either adrenalin
(epinephrine) or a placebo, which was actually a saline solution,
which has no side effects at all. The
effects of the adrenalin are very similar to the effects of arousal of the
sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system (as in the fight
or flight syndrome) - increasing in blood pressure, heart rate, blood
sugar level, respiration rate, and blood flow to the muscles and brain,
with an accompanying decrease in blood flow to the skin.
This is often experienced as palpitations, tremors, flushing and
faster breathing. The effects begin after three minutes and last from ten
minutes to an hour.
subjects were then put in one of four experimental conditions:
1. Adrenalin Ignorant
- subjects were given an adrenalin injection and not told of the effects
of the drug.
2. Adrenalin Informed
- subjects were given an adrenalin injection and warned of the ‘side
effects’ of the drug (hand shake, heart pounding, dry mouth etc.).
The subjects were therefore prepared for the effects of the
adrenalin (although they thought they were to do with the suproxin).
3. Adrenalin Misinformed
- subjects were given an adrenalin injection and told to expect side
effects but were told these would be numb feet and headache. These subjects would, therefore, not be expecting the effects
of the adrenalin.
4. Control Group - Placebo
- subjects were given an injection that would have no effect and were
given no instructions of what to expect.
second independent variable (the situation they are put in - either
euphoria situation or anger situation) was manipulated in the following
after the subject’s injection, the doctor left the room and the
experimenter returned with a stooge.
The stooge was introduced as another subject and the experimenter
stated that both had had the Suproxin injection and that they had to wait
for 20 minutes while the Suproxin was absorbed into the bloodstream, after
which they would both be given the same tests of vision.
participant was placed in either the euphoria situation or anger
waiting room had been deliberately put into a state of mild disarray and
as the experimenter was leaving, he apologetically added that, if they
needed any rough paper, rubber bands or pencils they should help
themselves. As soon as the
experimenter left the room the stooge introduced himself again, made a few
icebreaker comments and then began his routine which consisted of playing
with items (paper, rubber bands, pencils, folders and hula hoops) left in
the room. The stooge
encouraged the participant to join in while he played with the objects.
The routine was standardised as far as was possible. The stooge
never knew which condition any particular subject was in.
participants in this situation were placed with a stooge and were
asked to spend the 20 minutes waiting time answering questionnaires.
Before looking at the questionnaires, the stooge told the subject
that he thought it unfair to be given injections, and that they should
have been told when they first called.
five-page questionnaire started innocently enough, but then grew
increasingly personal and insulting (e.g. ‘How many times each week
do you have sexual intercourse?’)
The stooge, sitting opposite the subject, paced his own answers so
that at all times they were both working on the same question.
At regular points, the stooge made a series of standardised
comments about the questions, starting off innocently enough, but growing
increasingly discontented and finally he ends in a rage.
routine again was standardised and the stooge never knew which condition
any particular subject was in.
adrenalin misinformed condition was not run in the anger sequence because
it was originally conceived as a control condition, and that its inclusion
in the euphoria sequence would suffice as a means of evaluating any
artifactual effects of the adrenal informed instructions]
the study ran seven conditions as shown in table below
conditions in the Schachter and Singer experiment
researchers then made observational measures of emotional response
through a one-way mirror, and also took self-report measures from
the subjects. The self-report
questionnaire contained of a number of mock questions but the crucial ones
to measure mood and emotion are shown below in the table.
The self-report rating scale used by Schachter and Singer.
How irritated, angry or annoyed would you say you feel at present?
don’t feel at all irritated or angry
feel a little irritated and angry
feel quite a lot irritated and angry
feel very irritated and angry
feel extremely irritated and angry
How good or happy would you say you feel at present?
don’t feel at all happy or good
feel a little happy and good
feel quite a lot happy and good
feel very happy and good
feel extremely happy and good
the subjects had completed the questionnaires, the experimenter announced
that the experiment was over, explained the deception in detail, answered
any questions and swore the subjects to secrecy.
Finally, subjects answered a questionnaire about their experiences,
if any, with adrenalin and their suspicion about the experimental set-up.
None knew anything about the experiment beforehand, but 11 were so
extremely suspicious that their data was automatically discarded.
the score of self-reported emotion, the anger score was subtracted from
the happiness score.
scale is a measure of happiness minus anger (i.e. the higher the
positive value, the happier the subject reports himself feeling),
subjects who received the injections of adrenalin showed significantly
more sympathetic arousal (as measured by pulse rate and self-ratings on
palpitation, tremor, numbness, itching and headache) in comparison to
the placebo subjects.
five subjects showed no relevant symptoms to the adrenalin and thus, were
excluded from the study]
the euphoria condition the misinformed participants were feeling happier than all the others. The
second happiest group was the ignorant group.
This demonstrates that these participants were more susceptible to
the stooge because they had no explanation of why their bodies felt as
they did. The informed group felt the least happy because they
understood why they felt as they did.
the anger condition, the ignorant group felt the angriest.
The second angriest group was the placebo group.
The least angry group were those who were informed.
Again this shows that participants were more susceptible to the
stooge because they had no explanation of why their body felt as it did.
behaviour (which was observed through a one way mirror) matched their
and Singer argue that their findings support their two-factor theory of
emotion. The two-factor
theory of emotion states that the physiological arousal in different
emotion is entirely the same and we label our arousal according to the
cognitions we have available.
argue that all three propositions were supported.
Evaluation of Procedure/Method
main strength of the method used by Schachter and Singer is the amount of
control they had of their procedure.
For example they were able to randomly allocate different
participants to the different conditions, they were able to deceive the
participants of the real nature of the experiment and standardise the
procedure as much as possible. They
even ensured that the stooge did not know which condition the participant
there are many weakness of the method used by Schachter and Singer.
experiment definitely lacked ecological validity.
We do not usually experience emotions in the way in which Schachter
and Singer induced them. We
are often aware of events before the onset of arousal and this gives us
information we can use to interpret out physical cues.
sample used in the experiment can also be criticised.
The sample was all male college students, taking classes in
introductory psychology at Minnesota University.
We could criticise the use of students or males.
It could be, for example that males do not always experience
emotions in the same way as females.
The sample is certainly not representative.
study can also be questioned on ethical grounds.
Even though the participants were given health checks before the
experiment began, and were thoroughly debriefed, they were considerably deceived.
results were definitely not as impressive as expected.
All the participants in the euphoria and anger situation were not
actually angry. If they were
angry they would have got minus scores.
It seems that the experimenters were only able to make participants
less happy but not angry.
can also question the assumption that all participants would react in the
same way to the adrenaline. Adrenalin
does not affect everyone in the same way, for example five of Schachter
& Singer’s subjects were excluded from analysis because they
experienced no physiological symptoms.
further problem with the procedure is that no assessment was made of
subjects’ mood before the injection - presumably, a subject in a better
mood to begin with might respond more positively to a playful stooge.
perhaps because people wanted to believe the theory, and perhaps because
of the complexity of the experiment, no attempt at replication was made
until 1979 when Marshall and Zimbardo failed to obtain the
same results as the original study.
Evaluation of Explanation
two-factor theory of emotion has been an influential theory of emotions.
However subsequent work has shown that the relationship is more
complex than the two-factor theory predicts.
example psychologists now argue that peoples efforts to understand an
unexplained state of arousal is more extensive than a quick examination of
cues in the surrounding environment.
When we seek to explain a state of arousal, we don’t merely use
others’ behaviour but call on many other sources of information as well,
particularly our own past history - we search for prior occasions on which
we felt this arousal state to explain its occurrence now.
& Singer, J.E. (1962) Cognitive, social and physiological determinants
of emotional state. Psychological Review, 69, 379-99.