Cannon-Bard theory

Cannon-Bard theory

The Cannon-Bard theory is a psychological theory developed by physiologists Walter Cannon and Philip Bard, which suggests that people feel emotions first and then act upon them. These actions include changes in muscular tension, perspiration, etc. The theory was formulated following the introduction of the James-Lange theory of Emotion in the late 1800s, which alternately suggested that emotion is the result of one's perception of their reaction, or "bodily change."

The Cannon-Bard theory sparked much controversy in cognitive circles due to its suggestion that there is no mechanism to emotion, and many theorists attempted to provide explanations of emotion that suggested a mechanism. One such theory was provided by Schachter & Singer's Two factor theory of emotion, in which they posited that emotion is the cognitive interpretation of a physiological response. For many, this remains the best formulation of emotion.


"I see a man outside my window. I am afraid. I begin to perspire."

The Cannon-Bard Theory of Emotion is based on the premise that one reacts to a specific stimulus and experiences the corresponding emotion simultaneously. Therefore, if one is afraid of heights and is travelling to the top of a skyscraper, they are likely to experience the emotion of fear. Subsequently, the perception of this emotion (fear) influences the person's reaction to the stimulus (heights). Cannon and Bard posited that one is able to react to a stimulus only after experiencing the related emotion.



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  • Cannon-Bard theory — Can·non Bard theory (kanґən bahrdґ) [W.B. Cannon; Philip Bard, American psychologist, 1898–1977] emergency theory …   Medical dictionary

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  • Cannon, Walter B(radford) — born Oct. 19, 1871, Prairie du Chien, Wis., U.S. died Oct. 1, 1945, Franklin, N.H. U.S. neurologist and physiologist. He was the first to use X rays in physiological studies. He also investigated hemorrhagic and traumatic shock during World War I …   Universalium

  • theory — A reasoned explanation of known facts or phenomena that serves as a basis of investigation by which to seek the truth. SEE ALSO: hypothesis, postulate. [G. theoria, a beholding, speculation, t., fr. theoros, a beholder] adsorption t. of narcosis… …   Medical dictionary

  • Cannon — Walter B., U.S. physiologist, 1871–1945. See C. ring, C. theory, C. Bard theory, Bernard C. homeostasis. * * * can·non kan ən n the part of the leg in which the cannon bone is found …   Medical dictionary

  • Bard — Philip, U.S. physiologist, 1898–1945. See Cannon B. theory …   Medical dictionary

  • Walter Bradford Cannon — Infobox Scientist name = Walter Bradford Cannon box width = image size =210px caption = Walter Bradford Cannon at Harvard. birth date = October 19, 1871 birth place = Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin death date = October 19, 1945 death place =… …   Wikipedia

  • James-Lange theory — The James Lange theory refers to a hypothesis on the origin and nature of emotions developed independently by two 19th century scholars, William James and Carl Lange. The theory states that within human beings, as a response to experiences in the …   Wikipedia

  • Two-factor theory of emotion — Schachter Singer (1962) The two factor theory of emotion, or Schachter Singer theory, states that emotion is a function of both cognitive factors and physiological arousal. According to the theory, people search the immediate environment for… …   Wikipedia

  • Walter Cannon — Walter Bradford Cannon (* 19. Oktober 1871 in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin; † 1. Oktober 1945) war ein US amerikanischer Physiologe. 1906 wurde er Nachfolger von Henry Pickering Bowditch als George Higginson Professor of Physiology an der Harvard… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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