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The Psychology of Emotions: An Introduction to Embodied Cognition

University of Cambridge via edX


Psychology is not just the mind, this course introduces and explores the idea that our mind is rooted in our body and that perhaps it is time to move on from this dichotomy. This course will touch on the fundamental principles of cognitive psychology with a specific focus on emotional social and embodied cognition, which theorizes that many functions of human cognition (even those linked to logic, reasoning and decision making) are aided by our entire bodies’ feelings and sensations.

Discover what might shape our ability to understand others and the importance of a functional emotional processing for every kind of interaction with others. This increased understanding can improve decision making processes, with knowledge of cognitive neuroscience sitting alongside human factors, and introduces new concepts to include in a view of mental health.

Learners will be encouraged to reflect on crucial and thought-provoking concepts such as the mind-body dualism and reductionism. The course is likely to make learners self-aware of how they express their emotions as well as how they read and interpret other persons’ emotions. Learners will know both the complexity and simplicity of the cognitive process that takes place whenever we try to recognize facial expressions, and how easily we can misinterpret others’ emotions.

During the course we will focus on the main theories of embodiment and hypotheses and on how researchers investigate and address them. In doing so, we will learn about the main methods and materials used to explore emotional embodiment and to measure our ability to recognise other people’s facial expressions. This will include the main experimental designs, behavioural and neuroimaging methods adopted.


What is Cognitive Psychology: an overview

This week will provide an overview of key findings, theories and research methods of cognitive psychology.

How we feel emotions: introduction to the psychology of facial expressions and to theories of embodied emotional processing

This week will provide an introduction to the main concepts and theories of social cognition. In particular, videos explore the extent to which mirror neurons shape our ability to understand others and our ability to understand that others might have mental states that differ from our own (theory of mind reasoning).

How do we study emotions? Emotional processing and social cognition research methods

This week explores the key research methods of embodied emotional processing and social cognition. It will outline the most important techniques in the broader cognitive psychology and evaluate the contribution they can make to emotional processing research and embodiment theories. It will also introduce the role of neuropsychological research in understanding how brain lesions can help us understand how the brain normally functions. Key methods of neuroimaging techniques covered will be specifically focused on electroencephalogram (EEG) and electromyography (EMG).

How do we recognise the emotional facial expressions of others? Feeling me to feel you - from theory-theories to the simulation theory

This week will provide an introduction to the main theories of emotional facial expression recognition. It will include an overview of the theory models as well as of the simulation theory models. It will also illustrate the key findings on facial mimicry often associated with better facial expression recognition.

Is it always easy to understand others' emotions? The influence of context and expression ambiguity on mimicry during emotional recognition

Any emotional expression is a communication channel that has the intrinsic intention of conveying a message. The expression finds its meaning in the interaction with another person and its sense in the social context.

This week provides an overview of the factors that influence the emotional understanding in a natural social situation. This week will outline some of the main factors that are thought to affect the way we have insights about other’s feeling and intentions. This includes our attitude towards the other (for instance our motivation to understand their emotions), prior knowledge that we have about them and the ambiguity of the facial expression itself.

Taught by

Dr Giulia Mangiaracina


4.4 rating at edX based on 34 ratings

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