Schacter, S., & Singer, J. E. (1962). Cognitive, social, and psychological determinants of emotional state. Psychological Review, 69, 379-399.
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Prior to this classic article, human emotion in the field of psychology was largely thought to be a product of differing states of physiological arousal. In an attempt to further explicate possible determinants of emotion, Schachter and Singer drew on the previous literature in this area and hypothesized that a combination of physiological arousal and available cognition were the main determinants of emotion. In order to test this premises, the researchers created an experiment where they induced (or did not induce) a participants physiological arousal. During the induction of arousal (a shot of adrenalin), some participants were given information about how they would feel and others were not. Finally, some participants were in conditions where they were with a confederate (that acted in either a euphoric or angry mood).
The researchers found that participants who had no explanation as to how they would feel after they received the shot were most susceptible to the influence of the confederate (either most angry or most happy). This was true of the control groups as well. The groups that were least happy or angry were those that had a clear understanding of how they would feel after the injection. Taken in sum, the researchers suggested that physiological arousal was baseline across emotion states and that the participants labeled their arousal according to available cognition.
This article is considered a classic because it represented a departure from studying emotion in terms of physiological arousal and suggested/explained that emotion is a function of both physiological arousal and cognitions appropriate to that arousal.