The Instrumental Effects of Emotional Behavior

  • Holger Ursin


When an individual shows emotional behavior he or she very often is in a state of high physiological activation. However, sometimes apparently emotional behavior (aggression, fear) may be associated with moderate or even low levels of activation. This chapter deals with the psychological mechanisms that determine this internal state. Whenever an organism faces a threat, the brain responds with a generalized and fairly standard “program,” which is referred to as activation in this chapter. In addition, one or several specific response patterns is chosen and “executed” by the brain, and these are referred to as emotional programs. Even if such programs occur together in many instances, they are regarded as due to independent mechanisms localized in separate parts of the brain. There seems to be an interaction between these specific programs and the internal state, and this interaction is the main topic of this chapter. The main assumption is that instrumental behavior reduces the activation level, and that emotional programs do not differ in principle from other types of behavior in their instrumental effects on the environment and the internal state.


Corticosterone Level Active Avoidance Emotional Behavior Septal Lesion Inescapable Shock 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Holger Ursin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physiological PsychologyUniversity of BergenBergenNorway

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