What is Affect Script Psychology?
American psychologist/philosopher Silvan Tomkins developed a framework that addresses the biological bases of all human emotions and motivations that helps us better understand ourselves, our behaviour and our relationships at home, at school, at work, and in the broader community. This Affect Script Psychology (ASP) of Tomkins helps us understand why and how RP works to change behaviour, and why RP is so effective at repairing and rebuilding damaged relationships.
Put simply, it is an accessible, informative framework for understanding human emotion, motivation and behaviour. It gives us the means not only to understand a little better our personality and those of others around us, but also gives insights into how we can change those patterns of behaviour that may not have been serving us well. Facing life’s struggles can be a little easier with an understanding of the factors and forces ruling our emotional world. Knowledge is power and armed with an understanding of ASP we can learn to recognize our emotional patterns and, if necessary or desirable, work to change those patterns into more life-giving, nurturing ones.
The nine basic emotional reactions (the affects) are as common to all of us as are our needs for oxygen, water and food. At the biological level, we all experience the same emotional triggers in response to positive and negative stimuli in our environment and to joys and troubles in our relationships with one another. At the same time, we understand intuitively that it is our unique life experience that finds expression in our individual emotional lives (our scripts). This is what makes each of us who we are – and how our stories colour and influence our emotional lives.
With these basic building blocks – of affects (the biological or physiological response) and scripts (the unique influence of our particular life experience, learning and socialization) – Tomkins’s ASP provides insights into the way in which we humans function individually, with significant others, and in the many groups to which we belong. It helps us understand our emotional reactions as well as our desires and needs in the many different relationships that we form, and in the many stages of those relationships. It helps us understand us… and others. What could be more important?
For teachers, ASP also gives profound insights into the learning
process and the emotional dynamics of the classroom environment. While we
spend much of our time thinking about the cognitive realm in schools - what
objectives, outcomes and standards we are seeking - we actually live and
love and teach each day in the emotional realm.
It's a biological reality that we can recognise and better understand. ASP
gives us access to this realm and enables us to design teaching and learning
processes that can be truly effectively - in academics and for life.
For teachers, ASP also gives profound insights into the learning process and the emotional dynamics of the classroom environment. While we spend much of our time thinking about the cognitive realm in schools - what objectives, outcomes and standards we are seeking - we actually live and love and teach each day in the emotional realm. It's a biological reality that we can recognise and better understand. ASP gives us access to this realm and enables us to design teaching and learning processes that can be truly effectively - in academics and for life.
Biological Bases of Our Emotions and Motivations
George, GB & Marshall, PR (2014)
The Biological Bases of Our Emotions and Motivations George, GB & Marshall, PR (2014)
This article introduces the reader to the theory of Affect and Script Psychology developed from the work of Silvan S Tomkins, an American Psychologist and Philosopher of the late Twentieth Century. Tomkins's work explores the biological basis for affect and emotion and gives striking insights into what motivates human behaviour both individually and in groups. Central to this understanding is Tomkins's description of nine innate affects and how our emotional life is built from these into scripts which guide our behaviour. The Shame family of emotions is particularly relevant in human relationships.
A Primer of Affect Psychology Kelly, V (2009)
Prologue to Affect Imagery Consciousness Nathanson, D (2008) Affect Imagery Consciousness, The Combined Edition, Springer, 2008
Affect and Emotion in the Restorative School George, G (2013) [pdf] Paper presented at the Fourth Biennial Restorative Practices International Conference, MCG Melbourne, June 2013.
From empathy to community Nathanson, D. L. (1997). In J. A. Winer (Ed.),
The Annual of Psychoanalysis (Vol. 25). Chicago: Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis.
The Psychology of Community Conferencing.
Abramson, L. & Moore, D (2002). In: (J. Perry,
Community conferencing is a process for transforming conflict. A community conference assists a community of people to experience a collective emotional transition. Together, they move from thenegative emotions associated with conflict to the positive emotions associated with cooperation.
Putting the Self into Self-Conscious Emotions: A Theoretical Model Tracy, JL & Robins, RW (2004), Psychological Enquiry, pp. Vol 15, No2, 103-125.
Self-conscious emotions (e.g., shame, pride) are fundamentally important to a wide range of psychological processes, yet they have received relatively little attention compared to other, more “basic” emotions (e.g., sadness, joy). This article outlines the unique features that distinguish self-conscious from basic emotions and then explains why generally accepted models of basic emotions do not adequately capture the self-conscious emotion process. The authors present a new model of self-conscious emotions, specify a set of predictions derived from the model, and apply the model to narcissistic self-esteem regulation. Finally, the authors discuss the model’s broader implications for future research on self and emotion.