Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Lewis & Clark College

Shachter and Singer

Added on by jay odenbaugh.

In their famous paper, Shachter and Singer argued for the "cognitive labeling" theory of emotions. Emotions are composites of physiological arousal and labeling with emotional concepts. The experimental protocol of their study was as follows: 

  • Some participants were given epinephrine and others a placebo.

    • pinephrine-Informed: they knew the effects (e.g. shaking hands, pounding heart, flushed face).

    • Epinephrine-Ignorant: they were not told about side effects.

    • Epinephrine-Misinformed: there were incorrectly told about the effects (e.g. numb feet, itchy all over, headache). 

  • Some participants are put in a “euphoria” situation (e. g. paper air planes manila folder buildings) and others an “anger” situation (mean questionnaires). 

The predictions of their study were these: 

  1. Those given epinephrine and in Epi-Inf would be less likely to report (behave) emotion.

  2. Those given epinephrine and in Epi-Ign or Epi-Mis would report (behave) with respect to the appropriate emotion of the situation.

  3. Those given saline would not report emotion. 

The data they collected are in the following tables. 

Many cognitivists about the emotions cite this study as providing support for the view since bodily changes are undifferentiated absent some judgment or "labeling." 

Question: When you look at the data, does it confirm the predictions? Why or why not?