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Department of Psychology
University of Mississippi

PSY 324 | Science of Emotion

Science of Emotion is taught by Marilyn Mendolia, an associate professor of social psychology who earned her PhD from Dartmouth College. She researches verbal and facial expression of emotion along with self-regulation of emotion.

The course is a survey of major theoretical traditions (e.g., cognitive, evolutionary, developmental, functional, physiological, social constructivist) for studying processes and mechanisms involved in the experience and expression of emotion.

Students consider these questions:

  • Stress researchers posit that anxiety can help us cope during the COVID-19 pandemic, as long as we prevent panic contagion. Can we in fact manage or control our emotions?
  • Do babies experience emotion (e.g., happiness, guilt, pride)?
  • Are dogs happy while wagging their tails?
  • Dogs, horses, and goats can discern happy from angry human facial expressions. How is that possible?
  • Why do athletes put on a “game face”? Does it improve their performance?
  • How might it be that “when you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you,” as suggested in the lyrics of a song made famous by Louis Armstrong?

The answer to any one of these questions depends on how a person defines, studies, and explains emotion. This course is designed to introduce major theoretical traditions for analyzing emotion.

Topics covered in the course include different approaches to the study of emotion, including evolutionary, biological cognitive, social constructivist, developmental.

Students learn to

  • understand and think critically about the assumptions and research methods associated with each theoretical and experimental approach to emotion
  • utilize principles associated with each theoretical perspective or strategy to describe emotional behavior
  • integrate basic concepts, principles, and assumptions associated with each theoretical approach to emotion
  • demonstrate effective writing skills