Actors Flirt With Lying And Pretense, Knowing What To Feel And When To Feel
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Actors Flirt With Lying And Pretense, Knowing What To Feel And When To Feel

Are they scientists of emotions?

January 24, 2018

Article By- Abhudai Pal

Home/Culture/Actors Flirt With Lying And Pretense, Knowing What To Feel And When To Feel

What really actors do? 

Are they just good at faking feelings or they have been through these circumstances?

In truth, cognitive scientists and psychologists have been reluctant to embrace acting as a serious subject of study. But researchers like Thalia Goldstein, an assistant professor of psychology at Pace University, have recently started to investigate the links between the two fields with the idea that both disciplines can be enriched by a study of their commonalities.


Psychology, cognitive science, and theater are all trying to do the same thing, which is to understand why people do the things they do, their range of behavior, and where it comes from.

Goldstein said, “It’s just two different ways of looking at the same question.”

As a human invention, acting is hardly a hardwired part of our biology. So, while there’s no such thing as a “thespian instinct” or an adaptation that makes good acting evolutionarily advantageous, we can come closer to understanding why realistic acting is so convincing by analyzing the cognitive capacities it draws upon.

Goldstein said, "Acting is a form of pretense that's done with more realistic behavior, and a form of lying that everyone is in on."

Well, pretense, lying and acting, fit into a trio of imaginative parameters. Acting is neither lying and nor is it pretense, but it flirts with what is “true” or "real" to varying degrees.

The biggest gift an actor has is his or her imagination, which is limitless; while one’s real life and real experiences were quite limited.

Ancient Roots Of Acting

The most famous instance of supposed acting in ancient Greece was that of the actor Polus performing in the Electra of Sophocles, at Athens in the 4th century BC. The plot requires Electra to carry an urn supposed to contain the ashes of Orestes, and to lament and bewail the fate she believed had overtaken him.


Accordingly, Polus, clad in the mourning garb of Electra, took from the tomb the ashes and urn of his own son (who had recently died), embraced them as if they were those of Orestes, and rendered not the appearance or imitation of sorrow but genuine grief and unfeigned lamentation. Rather than mere acting, this was in fact real grief being expressed.

Emergence Of Realism In Acting

The trend toward realism in acting emerged in the mid-20th century due to the influence of Russian actor and director Constantin Stanislavsky, who urged actors to strive for “believable truth.”

The idea that there are psychological consequences to good acting has been espoused so often that it’s easy to assume the science is there to back it up.


As a result, the sudden and often surprising deaths of talented actors sometimes inspire fearful, knowing whispers about the dangers of delving “too deep” into harrowing roles.

Many theatergoers have a sense that somewhere in the actor’s psyche lies the potential to forget himself when authentically getting into character.

Thespians Know Life

By culminating everything they are the people who know emotions, how to feel them, when to feel them. They know life. The best thing about them is that they learn constantly, irrespective of their will to learn.


Actors are not ordinary people; they are the scientists of emotions. They study and acknowledge situations, circumstances and then empathize.

What do you think makes a good actor?


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