Deconstructing the "two Factors": The Historical Origins of the Schachter-Singer Theory of Emotions

Otniel E. Dror*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


In this contribution, I interrogate the historical-intellectual narrative that dominates the history of the Schachter-Singer two-factor theory of emotion. In the first part, I propose that a social influence model became generalized to a cognitive view. I argue that Schachter and Singer presented a cognitive theory of emotions in enacting inside the laboratory Schachter's preceding "social influence" model of emotions and that Schachter's adoption of a cognitive model of emotion was driven by and was necessary for his previous research on social influence. In the second part, I argue that the Schachter-Singer theory is remarkable not because it introduced a cognitive turn in emotion, but because it presented sympathetic nervous system activation as an essential constitutive element of every emotion.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)7-16
Number of pages10
JournalEmotion Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2016.


  • Bibb Latané
  • Jerome Singer
  • Ladd Wheeler
  • Lawrence S. Wrightsman
  • Stanley Schachter
  • adrenalin
  • cognitive
  • history of emotions
  • science of emotions
  • social influence
  • social psychology
  • two-factor theory


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