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Patron: Her Majesty the Queen


The Royal Scottish Society of Arts
Showcasing Scotland's Science, Technology and Innovation

5th Meeting of the 187th Session (2007-2008)

The Faces of Emotion - the What? and the Why?

Emeritus Professor Eric Salzen BSc PhD(Edin) CPsychol FBPsS FRSE

In the Augustine United Church
41 George IV Bridge
Edinburgh, EH1 1EL
On Monday 4th February 2008, at 7pm

Emotion (e.g. Fear) is generally considered to be, like Motivation (e.g. Hunger), an internal state which we experience and which energizes appropriate actions, but which is of mental rather than physiological origin, being the result of an assessment of external circumstances (e.g. Danger). Like Motivation it serves to instigate appropriate actions (e.g. Flight), which are accompanied by the so-called Expressions of Emotion (e.g. Fear). Studies of Facial Expressions claim to demonstrate the existence of 6 or 8 distinct Classes of Emotion. The talk will give an Ethological (i.e. a comparative zoological) analysis of a full range of Facial and Bodily expressions in Man and other Primates and endeavour to show their true biological nature. Namely that they are normal motivated actions that are thwarted by absent or conflicting necessary stimuli and so are incomplete actions - (the What? is Emotional Behaviour). These partial actions show what behaviours are being attempted and so, in social interactions, may induce a social partner to behave so as to provide an appropriate stimulus or resolve the conflict. Hence these "Emotional Expressions" function as Social Signals - (the Why behave Emotionally?). Finally it will be shown how a Thwarted Action-State Signalling (TASS) Theory of Emotion can explain the apparent existence of 6-8 Classes of Emotion and Emotional Expression.

Professor Salzen was a Fishery researcher in British West Africa 1955-56. His university posts include Zoology in Liverpool University 1960-64 and Psychology in Durham University 1956-60, Waterloo University, Ontario 1964-68 and Aberdeen University 1968-95. He has spent research sabbaticals in Germany, Nepal, and Australia and his main interests have been in animal and human behaviour and their physiological and neurological mechanisms, especially in attachment and emotion.

Location of meeting

Society Business

The President, Professor Anthony Busuttil, will be in the Chair

Members of the Public are welcome to attend

Jane Ridder-Patrick, Secretary
Telephone: 0131 556 2161

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