Relational structure refers to the emotional tone of a relationship

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We define relational context and suggest that accounting for it in the design and . The point is straightforward: behavior, cognition, and emotion depend on relational context. .. of relationship history (in this case participants' history of mood and Personal Relationships: Their Structures and Processes. Structural emotions set the basic emotional tone, and they prepare the ground for the a nextact in the same relationship or a firstact in a new relational context. See also abstract language. benevolent lie A lie defined by the teller as not use and structure time. circumscribing A stage of relational deterioration in which climate The emotional tone of a relationship between two or more individuals.

He also argued that marriages either succeed or fail based on the barriers to leave the relationship, like financial hardships, and the presence of alternative attractions, like infidelity. Levinger stated that marriages will fail when the attractions of the partners lessen, the barriers to leave the spouse are weak, and the alternatives outside of the relationship are appealing.

The boundary conditions for this theory are that at least two people must be having some type of interaction. Social exchange also ties in closely with social penetration theory. Symbolic interaction Symbolic interaction comes from the sociocultural perspective in that it relies on the creation of shared meaning through interactions with others.

This theory focuses on the ways in which people form meaning and structure in society through interactions. People are motivated to act based on the meanings they assign to people, things, and events.

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When people interact over time, they come to shared meaning for certain terms and actions and thus come to understand events in particular ways. There are three main concepts in this theory: Society Social acts which create meaning involve an initial gesture from one individual, a response to that gesture from another and a result. Self Self-image comes from interaction with others based on others perceptions. A person makes sense of the world and defines their "self" through social interactions.

Mind Your ability to use significant symbols to respond to yourself makes thinking possible. You define objects in terms of how you might react to them.

Objects become what they are through our symbolic minding process. An underlying assumption for this theory is that meaning and social reality are shaped from interactions with others and that some kind of shared meaning is reached.

The boundary conditions for this theory are there must be numerous people communicating and interacting and thus assigning meaning to situations or objects. Relational dialectics theory[ edit ] Main article: Relational dialectics A dialectical approach to interpersonal communication was developed by scholars Leslie Baxter and Barbara Montgomery. Their dialectical approach revolves around the notions of contradiction, change, praxis, and totality.

Influenced by Hegel, Marx, and Bakhtin, the dialectical approach is informed by an epistemology that refers to a method of reasoning by which one searches for understanding through the tension of opposing arguments. Utilizing the dialectical approach, Baxter and Montgomery developed two types of dialectics that function in interpersonal relationships: These include autonomy-connection, novelty-predictability, openness-closedness.

In order to understand relational dialectics theory, we must first understand specifically what encompasses the term discourse. Therefore, discourses are "systems of meaning that are uttered whenever we make intelligible utterances aloud with others or in our heads when we hold internal conversations".

However, it also shows how the meanings within our conversations may be interpreted, understood, and of course misunderstood. Numerous examples of this can be seen in the daily communicative acts we participate in. However, dialectical tensions within our discourses can most likely be seen in interpersonal communication due to the close nature of interpersonal relationships.

The well known proverb "opposites attract, but birds of a feather flock together" exemplifies these dialectical tensions. These consist of connectedness and separateness, certainty and uncertainty, and openness and closedness. Connectedness and separateness[ edit ] Most individuals naturally desire to have a close bond in the interpersonal relationships we are a part of. However, it is also assumed that no relationship can be enduring without the individuals involved within it also having their time alone to themselves.

Individuals who are only defined by a specific relationship they are a part of can result in the loss of individual identity. Certainty and uncertainty[ edit ] Individuals desire a sense of assurance and predictability in the interpersonal relationships they are a part of. However, they also desire having a variety in their interactions that come from having spontaneity and mystery within their relationships as well.

Much research has shown that relationships which become bland and. This assumption can be supported if one looks at the postulations within social penetration theory, which is another theory used often within the study of communication. This tension may also spawn a natural desire to keep an amount of personal privacy from other individuals. The struggle in this sense, illustrates the essence of relational dialectics. Coordinated management of meaning[ edit ] Main article: Coordinated management of meaning Coordinated management of meaning is a theory assuming that two individuals engaging in an interaction are each constructing their own interpretation and perception behind what a conversation means.

A core assumption within this theory includes the belief that all individuals interact based on rules that are expected to be followed while engaging in communication. These include constitutive and regulative rules. Constitutive rules "are essentially rules of meaning used by communicators to interpret or understand an event or message". If one individual sends a message to the other, the message receiver must then take that interaction and interpret what it means.

Often, this can be done on an almost instantaneous level because the interpretation rules applied to the situation are immediate and simple. This simply depends on each communicator's previous beliefs and perceptions within a given context and how they can apply these rules to the current communicative interaction.

Important to understand within the constructs of this theory is the fact that these "rules" of meaning "are always chosen within a context". The authors of this theory believe that there are a number of different context an individual can refer to when interpreting a communicative event. These include the relationship context, the episode context, the self-concept context, and the archetype context.

Relationship context This context assumes that there are mutual expectations between individuals who are members of a group.

Episode context This context simply refers to a specific event in which the communicative act is taking place. Archetype context This context is essentially one's image of what his or her belief consists of regarding general truths within communicative exchanges. Furthermore, Pearce and Cronen believe that these specific contexts exist in a hierarchical fashion. This theory assumes that the bottom level of this hierarchy consists of the communicative act.

Next, the hierarchy exists within the relationship context, then the episode context, followed by the self-concept context, and finally the archetype context. Social penetration theory[ edit ] Main article: Social penetration theory Developed by Irwin Altman and Dallas Taylor, the social penetration theory was made to provide conceptual framework that describes the development in interpersonal relationships.

This theory refers to the reciprocity of behaviors between two people who are in the process of developing a relationship.

The behaviors vary based on the different levels of intimacy that a relationship encounters. This analogy suggests that like an onion, personalities have "layers" that start from the outside what the public sees all the way to the core one's private self.

Often, when a relationship begins to develop, it is customary for the individuals within the relationship to undergo a process of self-disclosure. These stages include the orientation, exploratory affective exchange, affective exchange, and stable exchange. Exploratory affective stage Next, individuals become somewhat more friendly and relaxed with their communication styles. Affective exchange In the third stage, there is a high amount of open communication between individuals and typically these relationships consist of close friends or even romantic or platonic partners.

Stable stage The final stage, simply consists of continued expressions of open and personal types of interaction. Example- Jenny just met Justin because they were sitting at the same table at a wedding. Within minutes of meeting one another, Justin engages in small talk with Jenny. Jenny decides to tell Justin all about her terrible ex-boyfriend and all of the misery he put her through. This is the kind of information you wait to share until stages three or four, not stage one.

Due to the fact that Jenny told Justin much more than he wanted to know, he probably views her in a negative aspect and thinks she is crazy, which will most likely prevent any future relationship from happening. Altman and Taylor believed the social exchange theory principles could accurately predict whether or not people will risk self-disclosure.

The principles included, relational outcome, relational stability, and relational satisfaction. I therefore consider emotions to be intrinsically affective and subjective as it is manifest in emotional feelings. The relational approach thus goes together with what may be described as neuro-phenomenal approach. Such neuro-phenomenal approach does not only inform emotions and emotional feeling but is also highly relevant to better understand the neuronal mechanisms underlying consciousness in general.

Introduction The well-known James—Lange theory determined feelings as perceptions of physiological body changes in the autonomic, hormonal, and motor systems. Once we become aware of physiological bodily changes induced by danger, we feel fear and subjectively experience emotional feelings.

Jamesp. Conceptually, the embodied approach to emotion emphasizes the crucial role of the body in emotional feeling. If the body and its vegetative and sensorimotor function play a crucial role in constituting emotional feelings, the body can no longer be considered in a merely objective way but rather as subjective and experienced — the mere Koerper as objective body must be distinguished from the lived body as subjectively experienced body in emotional feeling Colombetti and Thompson,; Colombetti, 1.

The emphasis on the body raises the question for the role of the environment in constituting emotional feelings. The body stands in direct contact with the environment via its sensorimotor functions which are emphasized in recent body-based, e. The body is supposed to represent the environment in sensorimotor terms and it is these bodily representations that are considered crucial in constituting emotional feelings.

The environment may have then an indirect and modulatory role via the body in the constitution of the emotional feelings. This will be accompanied by discussing the empirical and conceptual implications of these data which I assume to favor a relational approach to emotions. Such relational concept characterizes emotions and emotional feeling to be intrinsically affective and subjective. Finally, the empirical and conceptual implications of such relational approach to emotions for consciousness are pointed out.

Interoception and Emotional Feeling Brain Imaging of Interoceptive Awareness Recent imaging studies using fMRI investigated neural activity during interoceptive stimulus processing like evocation of blood pressure changes during isometric and mental tasks, heart beat changes and perception, anticipatory skin conductance during gambling, and heart rate modulation during presentation of emotional faces Critchley, for a review, Craig,, ; Pollatos et al.

Based on these results, these regions are assumed to be involved in re-presenting the autonomic and visceral state of the body and thus interoceptive processing. Craig,assumes specifically the right insula to be crucially involved which receives autonomic and visceral afferences from lower centers see above and re-represents the interoceptive body state in an integrated way.

If these regions mediate interoceptive processing, the question for their role in the subjective experience of bodily and thus interoceptive changes as the basis for emotional feeling arises. Activity in the right insula also correlated with both the performance in the heartbeat detection task and subjective anxiety symptoms which also correlated with each other. These findings suggest close relationship between interoceptive awareness and emotional feeling.

Other studies demonstrated the modulation of these interoceptive stimulus changes by exteroceptive stimuli. Using fMRI, Critchleyfor instance, investigated regional neural activity changes during presentation of happy, sad, angry, and disgusted faces.

They observed heart rate changes to be dependent upon the emotional category with sad and angry faces inducing the strongest heart rate changes. According to the authors themselves, these results provide support for the hypothesis that interoceptive stimulus processing may be involved in differentiating between different types of emotional feelings. The group around Pollatos conducted a series of studies on heartbeat perception and emotional feeling.

Using EEG, they distinguished between good and poor heartbeat perceivers. Good heartbeat perceivers Pollatos et al. Taken together, these studies show behaviorally a close relationship between interoceptive awareness, arousal, and emotional feeling. Interoceptive and Exteroceptive Awareness The question is whether the above described data support an embodied concept of emotional feeling with exteroceptive stimuli being merely modulatory and instrumental or epiphenomenal.

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Or whether the data might be interpreted rather in favor of a relational concept of feelings with interoceptive stimuli in relation to exteroceptive stimuli being constitutive and thus central. Presupposing the James—Lange theory, most of the above cited authors have interpreted their data in favor of the interoceptive-based concept. However, I will argue that there are strong arguments which make the data rather compatible with what I call the intero-exteroceptive relational concept of emotional feeling.

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I argue that there seems to be a mismatch between empirical data and their interpretation in current imaging studies on emotional feelings and interoceptive processing which I want to support by making the three following points. First, all paradigms employed did not investigate interoceptive stimuli in isolation from exteroceptive stimuli but rather in relation to them.

Neural activity changes assumed to be specific for interoceptive awareness thus reflect a relation or dynamic balance between intero- and exteroceptive processing rather than mirroring isolated interoceptive stimulus processing remaining more or less independent of exteroceptive stimulus processing. Dynamic modulation of the right insula activity as observed by Critchley may thus reflect a dynamic balance between intero- and exteroceptive attention in the heartbeat-auditory tone detection task rather than pure interoceptive heartbeat stimulus processing.

Second, neither of the above mentioned studies addressed the question of emotional valence that indicates whether a feeling is positive or negative see also Colombetti, for a discussion of the concept of emotional valence. Interoceptive awareness may thus be linked to emotional arousal and subjective experience of emotional intensity while it apparently does not seem to determine the valence of the emotional feeling.

Regions that have been associated with emotional valence, as distinguished from emotional arousal, include the medial orbitofrontal cortex MOFCthe subgenual and pregenual anterior cingulate cortex PACCand the ventromedial prefrontal cortex VMPFC; Craig,; Phan et al.

The connectivity pattern thus argues strongly in favor of the intero-exteroceptive relational concept of emotional feeling which seems to make isolated interoceptive processing and thus an interoceptive-based concept of emotional feeling rather unlikely.

What however is needed to further support this point are investigations of both regional activity and connectivity patterns during intero- and exteroceptive stimulus processing see Hurliman et al.

Third, Pollatos et al. A similar temporal distribution is suggested by Tsuchiya and Adolphs who assume involvement of subcortical regions like brain stem nuclei and hypothalamus that mediate interoceptive stimuli to occur after and later than activation in higher regions like the DMPFC. These higher cortical regions have been associated with processing of higher-order exteroceptive stimuli particularly those that are highly self-related to the organism Northoff and Bermpohl, ; Northoff et al.

The fact that these regions are apparently implicated from early on in interoceptive awareness gives some though indirect support to the assumption that exteroceptive stimuli are involved early in interoceptive processing. Such early involvement indicates that the role of exteroceptive stimulus processing goes beyond mere modulation of interoceptive processing which would be better compatible with late involvement.

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In other terms, early involvement of these regions may indicate that interoceptive stimulus processing is coded in relation to exteroceptive stimuli going beyond mere modulation of the former by the latter. The observed early spatio-temporal pattern may thus reflect neural coding of the relationship between intero- and exteroceptive stimulus processing, i.

Otherwise there would be no need for regions predominantly associated with exteroceptive stimulus processing to be implicated so early. While it seems to be less compatible with the assumption of primarily independent interoceptive processing that becomes secondarily modulated by exteroceptive stimuli.

Finally, direct empirical support for intero-exteroceptive convergence comes from a recent study by Farb et al. He investigated interoceptive awareness i. While both intero- and exteroceptive awareness yielded dissociable networks i.

Unlike the posterior insula that responded strongly to interoceptive awareness, the anterior insula activity was as much predicted by exteroceptive awareness as interoceptive awareness. Hence, there seems to be intero-exteroceptive convergence in especially the anterior insula with both being integrated in the middle insula as bridge from posterior to anterior parts of the insula. Using biofeedback arousal and relaxation tasks in fMRI, Nagai et al. The level of neural activity in VMPFC and MOFC, which are part of the so-called anterior cortical midline structures aCMSmay thus represent the basal sympathetic or autonomic tone independent of some actual stimuli.

Since the aCMS have been shown to be modulated also by exteroceptive stimuli, neural activity within these regions may mirror a dynamic balance between attention to extero- and interoceptive stimuli see also Nagai et al.

This assumption is well compatible with the connectivity pattern of these regions. The aCMS are also densely connected to regions insula, hypothalamus, and nuclei in the brain stem as such PAG, colliculi, etc.

This connectivity pattern predisposes the aCMS for neural processing irrespective of the sensory modality of the respective stimulus, i.

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The assumption of supramodal processing in aCMS is supported by results from imaging studies. Emotions in either exteroceptive modality visual, auditory, gustatory, olfactory induce neural activity in various regions of the aCMS see above as well as Phan et al.

Finally, stimuli from different origins, i. Taken together, both connectivity pattern and imaging data suggest that neural processing in aCMS is supramodal and domain-independent: Instead it is important how the neural activity in the aCMS is related to the respective intero- or exteroceptive stimulus see below for further discussion. In addition to the aCMS, subcortical midline regions like the periaquaeductal gray PAGthe colliculi, the dorsomedial thalamus, and the ventral striatum may also be considered in processing interoceptive stimuli in relation to exteroceptive ones.

Panksepp ; and also Damasio, for instance, assumes that these regions are crucial in constituting emotional feelings. Since the very same regions are also characterized by strong motor connections both afferent and efferent, he and others like Ellis ; unlike Damasio who assumes a sensory-based view of feelings assume emotional feeling to be motor-based. Unfortunately, subcortical regions have often been neglected in imaging studies of emotions which, at least in part, may be due to the fact that neural activity in these regions is rather difficult to reliably visualize in current imaging techniques like fMRI.

However, animal experiments demonstrate the crucial role of these subcortical midline regions in constituting emotional feelings Panksepp, Future studies in humans are thus needed to investigate subcortical neural activity during emotional feeling in order to bridge the current gap between animals and humans.

Furthermore, the relationship between emotional feeling and motor function also needs to be investigated in detail by, for instance, investigating emotional feeling in dependence on variation of motor function and its neural underpinnings and vice versa. Translational Versus Relational Coding What is the implicit presupposition that drives most of the above cited authors to interpret their data in favor of the James—Lange theory?

They seem to presuppose a clear-cut distinction between intero- and exteroceptive stimulus processing with both systems being separate, distinct, and only interacting at specific node points. According to such view, exteroceptive stimuli are translated into interoceptive stimulus processing whose perception, in turn, is supposed to induce feeling. Exteroceptive stimuli thus have at best an only indirect and mediated impact on emotional feeling in that they must first be translated into interoceptive stimulus processing before they can modulate feelings.

I therefore call this model the interoceptive-based translational concept of feeling. However, anatomical connectivity suggests otherwise. Throughout the brain at all levels both subcortical and cortical and especially in the subcortical-cortical midline system there is convergence between intero- and exteroceptive inputs.

This is especially true for regions like the colliculi, the PAG, the tectum, and the aCMS where both intero- and exteroceptive afferences converge onto common neurons see Panksepp,; Rolls et al.

This suggests that interoceptive stimuli are not only modulated by exteroceptive stimuli at specific node points but rather that the relation, e. Exteroceptive stimuli are not translated into interoceptive stimulus processing but rather directly and unmediated related to them and it is this relation that seems to be coded in neural activity. I therefore call this model the intero-exteroceptive-based relational concept of feelings see also Figure 1. The figure compares two different ways of neural coding in emotional feeling.

On the left side translational coding describes how intero- and exteroceptive stimuli are separately represented and meta-represented in the neural activity of the brain.

This meta-representation is then perceived which following Damasio and the James—Lange theory leads to emotional feelings. This is different in relational coding on the right side. Here intero- and exteroceptive stimuli are coded in relation to each other with this relation resulting in emotional feeling and subsequent experience of the relationship between body and environment.

Is there any empirical evidence in favor of the intero-exteroceptive relational model of neural coding? Critchleyp. What seems to be coded in the brain is not so much the interoceptive stimulus itself but its relation to the respective exteroceptive stimulus.

If neural activity codes the actual relationship and balance between intero- and exteroceptive stimuli, one would expect strong contextual dependence of emotional feelings. The constitution of the emotional feeling, the type of feeling, should then depend on the respective emotional context which implies that different contexts may lead to different types of emotional feelings even in identical situations.

In other terms, the environmental context does not only modulate emotional feelings but actively participates in constituting emotional feelings. If the role of the context were merely modulatory, subjects would not have shown completely different and opposing emotional feelings in the two situations but rather variants of the same feeling. These experiments thus lend further support to the assumption of a constitutive role of the environmental context in emotional feelings rather than remaining merely modulatory.

How are intero- and exteroceptive stimuli related and balanced with each other in relational coding? Rather than coding the intero- or exteroceptive stimulus itself, the degree of correspondence between intero- and exteroceptive stimuli is coded.

If, for instance a lion approaches, the heart rate may increase, which may signal strong correspondence and convergence between intero- and exteroceptive stimuli. This consecutively leads to the constitution of a corresponding emotional feeling, the feeling of fright and anxiety.

If, in contrast, the approach of the lion is not accompanied by heart rate increases, as for instance if one is not clear whether the lion is real or not, there may be a mismatch between intero- and exteroceptive stimuli.

This may result in a different emotional feeling, the feeling of doubt and hesitation. The degree of convergence and divergence between intero- and exteroceptive stimuli may thus determine the kind of emotional feeling. That is well in accordance with the relational concept rather than with the translational one that claims for an interoceptive- and thus bodily based approach. Interoceptive stimulus processing remaining isolated, unrelated and independent from exteroceptive stimulus processing is consequently assumed to remain principally impossible.

This implies what I call intero-exteroceptive relational coding while it excludes interoceptive-based translational coding. What does this imply in experimental regard? The experimental efforts to isolate interoceptive stimulus processing and to search for its specific neural correlates may be futile since exteroceptive stimulus processing may always already be implicated in interoceptive stimulus processing.

If the relationship between input and output is indirect and thus merely instrumental, changes in perceptual content are dependent upon changes in the input.