Emotions


Image Caption : Emotions and the Brain : How do people come to an understanding of feelings? Why do we "feel" happy or sad, and how are we able to empathize with the emotions of others? Happiness and sadness are more than social constructs--they reflect intrinsic states of functioning in the brain. As the ability of scientists to view the processes of the living brain improve, it is becoming possible to locate the areas of the mind where fear resides and to map out the regions of delight. Our perceptions and experience of other people come from the brain, not from the heart.

Emotions

Those affective states which can be experienced and have arousing and motivational properties.

National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine

Emotion

Emotion refers to any strong feelings, as of joy, sorrow, or fear. Emotion is an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like is experienced, as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of consciousness. Emotions can be negative and distressing, or positive emotions can be reflections of well-being in our lives, and positive social relationships can buffer stress and enhance health.

NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY AND THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH

Emotion, in everyday speech, is any relatively brief conscious experience characterized by intense mental activity and a high degree of pleasure or displeasure. Scientific discourse has drifted to other meanings and there is no consensus on a definition. Emotion is often intertwined with mood, temperament, personality, disposition, and motivation. In some theories, cognition is an important aspect of emotion. Those acting primarily on the emotions they are feeling may seem as if they are not thinking, but mental processes are still essential, particularly in the interpretation of events. For example, the realization of our believing that we are in a dangerous situation and the subsequent arousal of our body's nervous system (rapid heartbeat and breathing, sweating, muscle tension) is integral to the experience of our feeling afraid. Other theories, however, claim that emotion is separate from and can precede cognition. Qualitative research on emotions reveals the strong presence of cross-cultural difference in emotional reactions, for example, the time required for becoming angry due to a delay to a meeting is strongly dependent on time-perceptions, with strong cultural differences among Latin and Anglo cultures. The same cultural differences exist for positive emotions, in which some cultures connect them more to spiritual experiences, and others to interpersonal relationships and availability of material goods. In other words, different national cultures and even different organizational cultures literally shape and organize the process of emotional experiencing, generating "grids" through which emotions are expected to be interpreted.

Emotions are complex. According to some theories, they are a state of feeling that results in physical and psychological changes that influence our behavior. The physiology of emotion is closely linked to arousal of the nervous system with various states and strengths of arousal relating, apparently, to particular emotions. Emotion is also linked to behavioral tendency. Extroverted people are more likely to be social and express their emotions, while introverted people are more likely to be more socially withdrawn and conceal their emotions. Emotion is often the driving force behind motivation, positive or negative. According to other theories, emotions are not causal forces but simply syndromes of components, which might include motivation, feeling, behavior, and physiological changes, but no one of these components is the emotion. Nor is the emotion an entity that causes these components.

Emotions involve different components, such as subjective experience, cognitive processes, expressive behavior, psychophysiological changes, and instrumental behavior. At one time, academics attempted to identify the emotion with one of the components: William James with a subjective experience, behaviorists with instrumental behavior, psychophysiologists with physiological changes, and so on. More recently, emotion is said to consist of all the components. The different components of emotion are categorized somewhat differently depending on the academic discipline. In psychology and philosophy, emotion typically includes a subjective, conscious experience characterized primarily by psychophysiological expressions, biological reactions, and mental states. A similar multicomponential description of emotion is found in sociology. For example, Peggy Thoits described emotions as involving physiological components, cultural or emotional labels (anger, surprise, etc.), expressive body actions, and the appraisal of situations and contexts.

Research on emotion has increased significantly over the past two decades with many fields contributing including psychology, neuroscience, endocrinology, medicine, history, sociology, and even computer science. The numerous theories that attempt to explain the origin, neurobiology, experience, and function of emotions have only fostered more intense research on this topic. Current areas of research in the concept of emotion include the development of materials that stimulate and elicit emotion. In addition PET scans and fMRI scans help study the affective processes in the brain.


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