Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Departmental Honors




There are at least two ways in which emotions can be conceptualized. The first, and most widespread, one is the cognitive approach which implies the presence of internal processes or psychological mechanisms. The cognitive approach says that emotions are the result of evolutionary processes. The second approach is behaviorological. It states that emotions are learned and are nothing more than behaviorological and physiological events. Both approaches, even if different, have an extremely important effect on our world because they may help make societal decisions and therefore manage our environment in a better way. As we will see, though, authorities do not always look at the research before making critical judgements.

My goal in this paper is twofold: First it is to review several lines of research on how certain emotions -namely guilt and shame- "evolved":. Second, it is to show that, unfortunately, the general public and city officials often make decisive judgements without referring to the research that has been done on the subject. After introducing the main theories of emotions and describing the behaviorological perspective, I will comment on the hasty and unwise decisions that are being make nationwide to reduce the rate of recidivism of criminals. But before I present the applied part, and in order for the reader to understand better the different theories of emotions, let me introduce you to some lines of research.

Included in

Psychology Commons



Faculty Mentor

Tamara J. Ferguson

Departmental Honors Advisor

Capstone Committee Member