Emotion is the complex psychophysiological experience of an individual's state of mind as interacting with biochemical (internal) and environmental (external) influences. In humans, emotion fundamentally involves "physiological arousal, expressive behaviors, and conscious experience". Emotion is associated with mood, temperament, personality and disposition, and motivation. The English word 'emotion' is derived from the French word émouvoir. This is based on the Latin emovere, where e- (variant of ex-) means 'out' and movere means 'move'. The related term "motivation" is also derived from the word movere.
No definitive taxonomy of emotions exists, though numerous taxonomies have been proposed. Some categorizations include:
A related distinction is between the emotion and the results of the emotion, principally behaviors and emotional expressions. People often behave in certain ways as a direct result of their emotional state, such as crying, fighting or fleeing. If one can have the emotion without the corresponding behavior, then we may consider the behavior not to be essential to the emotion. Neuroscientific research suggests there is a "magic quarter second" during which it's possible to catch a thought before it becomes an emotional reaction. In that instant, one can catch a feeling before allowing it to take hold.
The James-Lange theory posits that emotional experience is largely due to the experience of bodily changes. The functionalist approach to emotions (for example, Nico Frijda and Freitas-Magalhaes) holds that emotions have evolved for a particular function, such as to keep the subject safe.
There are basic and complex categories, where some basic emotions can be modified in some way to form complex emotions (for example, Paul Ekman). In one model, the complex emotions could arise from cultural conditioning or association combined with the basic emotions. Alternatively, analogous to the way primary colors combine, primary emotions could blend to form the full spectrum of human emotional experience. For example interpersonal anger and disgust could blend to form contempt.
Robert Plutchik proposed a three-dimensional "circumplex model" which describes the relations among emotions. This model is similar to a color wheel. The vertical dimension represents intensity, and the circle represents degrees of similarity among the emotions. He posited eight primary emotion dimensions arranged as four pairs of opposites. Some have also argued for the existence of meta-emotions which are emotions about emotions.
Another important means of distinguishing emotions concerns their occurrence in time. Some emotions occur over a period of seconds (for example, surprise), whereas others can last years (for example, love). The latter could be regarded as a long term tendency to have an emotion regarding a certain object rather than an emotion proper (though this is disputed). A distinction is then made between emotion episodes and emotional dispositions. Dispositions are also comparable to character traits, where someone may be said to be generally disposed to experience certain emotions, though about different objects. For example an irritable person is generally disposed to feel irritation more easily or quickly than others do. Finally, some theorists (for example, Klaus Scherer, 2005) place emotions within a more general category of 'affective states' where affective states can also include emotion-related phenomena such as pleasure and pain, motivational states (for example, hunger or curiosity), moods, dispositions and traits.
The neural correlates of hate have been investigated with an fMRI procedure. In this experiment, people had their brains scanned while viewing pictures of people they hated. The results showed increased activity in the medial frontal gyrus, right putamen, bilaterally in the premotor cortex, in the frontal pole, and bilaterally in the medial insula of the human brain. The researchers concluded that there is a distinct pattern of brain activity that occurs when people are experiencing hatred.
Theories about emotions stretch back at least as far as the Ancient Greek Stoics, as well as Plato and Aristotle. We also see sophisticated theories in the works of philosophers such as René Descartes, Baruch Spinoza and David Hume. Later theories of emotions tend to be informed by advances in empirical research. Often theories are not mutually exclusive and many researchers incorporate multiple perspectives in their work.
Somatic theories of emotion claim that bodily responses rather than judgements are essential to emotions. The first modern version of such theories comes from William James in the 1880s. The theory lost favour in the 20th century, but has regained popularity more recently due largely to theorists such as John Cacioppo, António Damásio, Joseph E. LeDoux and Robert Zajonc who are able to appeal to neurological evidence.
William James, in the article 'What is an Emotion?' (Mind, 9, 1884: 188-205), argued that emotional experience is largely due to the experience of bodily changes. The Danish psychologist Carl Lange also proposed a similar theory at around the same time, so this position is known as the James-Lange theory. This theory and its derivatives state that a changed situation leads to a changed bodily state. As James says "the perception of bodily changes as they occur is the emotion." James further claims that "we feel sad because we cry, angry because we strike, afraid because we tremble, and neither we cry, strike, nor tremble because we are sorry, angry, or fearful, as the case may be."
This theory is supported by experiments in which by manipulating the bodily state, a desired emotion is induced. Such experiments also have therapeutic implications (for example, in laughter therapy, dance therapy). The James-Lange theory is often misunderstood because it seems counter-intuitive. Most people believe that emotions give rise to emotion-specific actions: e.g. "I'm crying because I'm sad", or "I ran away because I was scared". The James-Lange theory, conversely, asserts that first we react to a situation (running away and crying happen before the emotion), and then we interpret our actions into an emotional response. In this way, emotions serve to explain and organize our own actions to us.
The James-Lange theory has now been all but abandoned by most scholars.
Tim Dalgleish (2004) states the following:
The James-Lange theory has remained influential. Its main contribution is the emphasis it places on the embodiment of emotions, especially the argument that changes in the bodily concomitants of emotions can alter their experienced intensity. Most contemporary neuroscientists would endorse a modified James-Lange view in which bodily feedback modulates the experience of emotion." (p. 583)
The issue with James-Lange theory is that of causation (bodily states causing emotions and being a priori), not that of the bodily influences on emotional experience (which I would argue is still quite prevalent today in biofeedback studies and embodiment theory).
Based on discoveries made through neural mapping of the limbic system, the neurobiological explanation of human emotion is that emotion is a pleasant or unpleasant mental state organized in the limbic system of the mammalian brain. If distinguished from reactive responses of reptiles, emotions would then be mammalian elaborations of general vertebrate arousal patterns, in which neurochemicals (for example, dopamine, noradrenaline, and serotonin) step-up or step-down the brain's activity level, as visible in body movements, gestures, and postures.
For example, the emotion of love is proposed to be the expression of paleocircuits of the mammalian brain (specifically, modules of the cingulate gyrus) which facilitate the care, feeding, and grooming of offspring. Paleocircuits are neural platforms for bodily expression configured before the advent of cortical circuits for speech. They consist of pre-configured pathways or networks of nerve cells in the forebrain, brain stem and spinal cord.
The motor centers of reptiles react to sensory cues of vision, sound, touch, chemical, gravity, and motion with pre-set body movements and programmed postures. With the arrival of night-active mammals, smell replaced vision as the dominant sense, and a different way of responding arose from the olfactory sense, which is proposed to have developed into mammalian emotion and emotional memory. The mammalian brain invested heavily in olfaction to succeed at night as reptiles slept—one explanation for why olfactory lobes in mammalian brains are proportionally larger than in the reptiles. These odor pathways gradually formed the neural blueprint for what was later to become our limbic brain.
Emotions are thought to be related to activity in brain areas that direct our attention, motivate our behavior, and determine the significance of what is going on around us. Pioneering work by Broca (1878), Papez (1937), and MacLean (1952) suggested that emotion is related to a group of structures in the center of the brain called the limbic system, which includes the hypothalamus, cingulate cortex, hippocampi, and other structures. More recent research has shown that some of these limbic structures are not as directly related to emotion as others are, while some non-limbic structures have been found to be of greater emotional relevance.
There is ample evidence that the left prefrontal cortex is activated by stimuli that cause positive approach. If attractive stimuli can selectively activate a region of the brain, then logically the converse should hold, that selective activation of that region of the brain should cause a stimulus to be judged more positively. This was demonstrated for moderately attractive visual stimuli and replicated and extended to include negative stimuli.
Two neurobiological models of emotion in the prefrontal cortex made opposing predictions. The Valence Model predicted that anger, a negative emotion, would activate the right prefrontal cortex. The Direction Model predicted that anger, an approach emotion, would activate the left prefrontal cortex. The second model was supported.
This still left open the question of whether the opposite of approach in the prefrontal cortex is better described as moving away (Direction Model), as unmoving but with strength and resistance (Movement Model), or as unmoving with passive yielding (Action Tendency Model). Support for the Action Tendency Model (passivity related to right prefrontal activity) comes from research on shyness and research on behavioral inhibition. Research that tested the competing hypotheses generated by all four models also supported the Action Tendency Model.
Another neurological approach, described by Bud Craig in 2003, distinguishes between two classes of emotion. "Classical emotions" include lust, anger and fear, and they are feelings evoked by environmental stimuli, which motivate us (in these examples, respectively, to copulate/fight/flee). "Homeostatic emotions" are feelings evoked by internal body states, which modulate our behavior. Thirst, hunger, feeling hot or cold (core temperature), feeling sleep deprived, salt hunger and air hunger are all examples of homeostatic emotion; each is a signal from a body system saying "Things aren't right down here. Drink/eat/move into the shade/put on something warm/sleep/lick salty rocks/breathe." We begin to feel a homeostatic emotion when one of these systems drifts out of balance, and the feeling prompts us to do what is necessary to restore that system to balance. Pain is a homeostatic emotion telling us "Things aren't right here. Withdraw and protect."
There are some theories arguing that cognitive activity—in the form of judgments, evaluations, or thoughts—is necessary for an emotion to occur. This, argued by Richard Lazarus, is necessary to capture the fact that emotions are about something or have intentionality. Such cognitive activity may be conscious or unconscious and may or may not take the form of conceptual processing.
An influential theory here is that of Lazarus: emotion is a disturbance that occurs in the following order: 1.) Cognitive appraisal—The individual assess the event cognitively, which cues the emotion. 2.) Physiological changes—The cognitive reaction starts biological changes such as increased heart rate or pituitary adrenal response. 3.) Action—The individual feels the emotion and chooses how to react. For example: Jenny sees a snake. 1.) Jenny cognitively assesses the snake in her presence, which triggers fear. 2.) Her heart begins to race faster. Adrenaline pumps through her blood stream. 3.) Jenny screams and runs away. Lazarus stressed that the quality and intensity of emotions are controlled through cognitive processes. These processes underlie coping strategies that form the emotional reaction by altering the relationship between the person and the environment.
There are some theories on emotions arguing that cognitive activity in the form of judgements, evaluations, or thoughts is necessary in order for an emotion to occur. A prominent philosophical exponent is Robert C. Solomon (for example, The Passions, Emotions and the Meaning of Life, 1993). The theory proposed by Nico Frijda where appraisal leads to action tendencies is another example.
It has also been suggested that emotions (affect heuristics, feelings and gut-feeling reactions) are often used as shortcuts to process information and influence behaviour. The Affect infusion model (AIM) is a theoretical model developed by Joseph Forgas in the early 1990s that attempts to explain how emotion and mood interact with one's ability to process information.
A recent hybrid of the somatic and cognitive theories of emotion is the perceptual theory. This theory is neo-Jamesian in arguing that bodily responses are central to emotions, yet it emphasises the meaningfulness of emotions or the idea that emotions are about something, as is recognised by cognitive theories. The novel claim of this theory is that conceptually based cognition is unnecessary for such meaning. Rather the bodily changes themselves perceive the meaningful content of the emotion because of being causally triggered by certain situations. In this respect, emotions are held to be analogous to faculties such as vision or touch, which provide information about the relation between the subject and the world in various ways. A sophisticated defense of this view is found in philosopher Jesse Prinz's book Gut Reactions and psychologist James Laird's book Feelings.
This a communication-based theory developed by Howard M. Weiss and Russell Cropanzano (1996), that looks at the causes, structures, and consequences of emotional experience (especially in work contexts). This theory suggests that emotions are influenced and caused by events which in turn influence attitudes and behaviors. This theoretical frame also emphasizes time in that human beings experience what they call emotion episodes—a "series of emotional states extended over time and organized around an underlying theme". This theory has been utilized by numerous researchers to better understand emotion from a communicative lens, and was reviewed further by Howard M. Weiss and Daniel J. Beal in their article, Reflections on Affective Events Theory published in Research on Emotion in Organizations in 2005.
In the Cannon-Bard theory, Walter Bradford Cannon argued against the dominance of the James-Lange theory regarding the physiological aspects of emotions in the second edition of Bodily Changes in Pain, Hunger, Fear and Rage. Where James argued that emotional behaviour often precedes or defines the emotion, Cannon and Bard argued that the emotion arises first and then stimulates typical behaviour.
Another cognitive theory is the Singer-Schachter theory. This is based on experiments purportedly showing that subjects can have different emotional reactions despite being placed into the same physiological state with an injection of adrenaline. Subjects were observed to express either anger or amusement depending on whether another person in the situation displayed that emotion. Hence, the combination of the appraisal of the situation (cognitive) and the participants' reception of adrenaline or a placebo together determined the response. This experiment has been criticized in Jesse Prinz's (2004) Gut Reactions.
A recent version of the cognitive theory regards emotions more broadly as the synchronization of many different bodily and cognitive components. Emotions are identified with the overall process whereby low-level cognitive appraisals, in particular the processing of relevance, trigger bodily reactions, behaviors, feelings, and actions.
Many different disciplines have produced work on the emotions. Human sciences study the role of emotions in mental processes, disorders, and neural mechanisms. In psychiatry, emotions are examined as part of the discipline's study and treatment of mental disorders in humans. Psychology examines emotions from a scientific perspective by treating them as mental processes and behavior and they explore the underlying physiological and neurological processes. In neuroscience sub-fields such as social neuroscience and affective neuroscience, scientists study the neural mechanisms of emotion by combining neuroscience with the psychological study of personality, emotion, and mood. In linguistics, the expression of emotion may change to the meaning of sounds. In education, the role of emotions in relation to learning are examined.
Social sciences often examine emotion for the role that it plays in human culture and social interactions. In sociology, emotions are examined for the role they play in human society, social patterns and interactions, and culture. In anthropology, the study of humanity, scholars use ethnography to undertake contextual analyses and cross-cultural comparisons of a range of human activities; some anthropology studies examine the role of emotions in human activities. In the field of communication sciences, critical organizational scholars have examined the role of emotions in organizations, from the perspectives of managers, employees, and even customers. A focus on emotions in organizations can be credited to Arlie Russell Hochschild's concept of emotional labor. The University of Queensland hosts EmoNet, an email distribution list representing a network of academics that facilitates scholarly discussion of all matters relating to the study of emotion in organizational settings. The list was established in January, 1997 and has over 700 members from across the globe.
In economics, the social science that studies the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services, emotions are analyzed in some sub-fields of microeconomics, in order to assess the role of emotions on purchase decision-making and risk perception. In criminology, a social science approach to the study of crime, scholars often draw on behavioral sciences, sociology, and psychology; emotions are examined in criminology issues such as anomie theory and studies of "toughness", aggressive behavior, and hooliganism. In law, which underpins civil obedience, politics, economics and society, evidence about people's emotions is often raised in tort law claims for compensation and in criminal law prosecutions against alleged lawbreakers (as evidence of the defendant's state of mind during trials, sentencing, and parole hearings). In political science, emotions are examined in a number of sub-fields, such as the analysis of voter decision-making.
In philosophy, emotions are studied in sub-fields such as ethics, the philosophy of art (for example, sensory-emotional values, and matters of taste and sentimentality), and the philosophy of music (see also Music and emotion). In history, scholars examine documents and other sources to interpret and analyze past activities; speculation on the emotional state of the authors of historical documents is one of the tools of interpretation. In literature and film-making, the expression of emotion is the cornerstone of genres such as drama, melodrama, and romance. In communication studies, scholars study the role that emotion plays in the dissemination of ideas and messages. Emotion is also studied in non-human animals in ethology, a branch of zoology which focuses on the scientific study of animal behavior. Ethology is a combination of laboratory and field science, with strong ties to ecology and evolution. Ethologists often study one type of behavior (for example, aggression) in a number of unrelated animals.
Perspectives on emotions from evolution theory were initiated in the late 19th century with Charles Darwin's book The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals. Darwin's original thesis was that emotions evolved via natural selection and therefore have cross-culturally universal counterparts. Furthermore, animals undergo emotions comparable to our own (see emotion in animals). Evidence of universality in the human case has been provided by Paul Ekman's seminal research on facial expression. Other research in this area focuses on physical displays of emotion including body language of animals and humans (see affect display). The increased potential in neuroimaging has also allowed investigation into evolutionarily ancient parts of the brain. Important neurological advances were made from these perspectives in the 1990s by, for example, Joseph E. LeDoux and António Damásio.
American evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers argues that moral emotions are based on the principle of reciprocal altruism. The notion of group selection is of particular relevance. This theory posits the different emotions have different reciprocal effects. Sympathy prompts a person to offer the first favor, particularly to someone in need for whom the help would go the furthest. Anger protects a person against cheaters who accept a favor without reciprocating, by making him want to punish the ingrate or sever the relationship. Gratitude impels a beneficiary to reward those who helped him in the past. Finally, guilt prompts a cheater who is in danger of being found out, by making them want to repair the relationship by redressing the misdeed. As well, guilty feelings encourage a cheater who has been caught to advertise or promise that he will behave better in the future.
We try to regulate our emotions to fit in with the norms of the situation, based on many—sometimes conflicting—demands upon us which originate from various entities studied by sociology on a micro level—such as social roles and 'feeling rules' the everyday social interactions and situations are shaped by—and, on a macro level, by social institutions, discourses, ideologies etc. For example, (post-)modern marriage is, on one hand, based on the emotion of love and on the other hand the very emotion is to be worked on and regulated by it. The sociology of emotions also focuses on general attitude changes in a population. Emotional appeals are commonly found in advertising, health campaigns and political messages. Recent examples include no-smoking health campaigns and political campaign advertising emphasizing the fear of terrorism.
Depending on the particular school's general emphasis either on cognitive components of emotion, physical energy discharging, or on symbolic movement and facial expression components of emotion, different schools of psychotherapy approach human emotions differently. While, for example, the school of Re-evaluation Counseling proposes that distressing emotions are to be relieved by "discharging" them—hence crying, laughing, sweating, shaking, and trembling; other more cognitively oriented schools approach them via their cognitive components, such as rational emotive behavior therapy. Yet others approach emotions via symbolic movement and facial expression components (like in contemporary Gestalt therapy.)
In the 2000s, research in computer science, engineering, psychology and neuroscience has been aimed at developing devices that recognize human affect display and model emotions. In computer science, affective computing is a branch of the study and development of artificial intelligence that deals with the design of systems and devices that can recognize, interpret, and process human emotions. It is an interdisciplinary field spanning computer sciences, psychology, and cognitive science. While the origins of the field may be traced as far back as to early philosophical enquiries into emotion, the more modern branch of computer science originated with Rosalind Picard's 1995 paper on affective computing. Detecting emotional information begins with passive sensors which capture data about the user's physical state or behavior without interpreting the input. The data gathered is analogous to the cues humans use to perceive emotions in others. Another area within affective computing is the design of computational devices proposed to exhibit either innate emotional capabilities or that are capable of convincingly simulating emotions. Emotional speech processing recognizes the user's emotional state by analyzing speech patterns. The detection and processing of facial expression or body gestures is achieved through detectors and sensors.
In the late nineteenth century, the most influential theorists were William James (1842–1910) and Carl Lange (1834–1900). James was an American psychologist and philosopher who wrote about educational psychology, psychology of religious experience/mysticism, and the philosophy of pragmatism. Lange was a Danish physician and psychologist. Working independently, they developed the James-Lange theory, a hypothesis on the origin and nature of emotions. The theory states that within human beings, as a response to experiences in the world, the autonomic nervous system creates physiological events such as muscular tension, a rise in heart rate, perspiration, and dryness of the mouth. Emotions, then, are feelings which come about as a result of these physiological changes, rather than being their cause.
Some of the most influential theorists on emotion from the twentieth century have died in the last decade. They include Magda B. Arnold (1903–2002), an American psychologist who developed the appraisal theory of emotions; Richard Lazarus (1922–2002), an American psychologist who specialized in emotion and stress, especially in relation to cognition; Herbert Simon (1916–2001), who included emotions into decision making and artificial intelligence; Robert Plutchik (1928–2006), an American psychologist who developed a psychoevolutionary theory of emotion; Robert Zajonc (1923–2008) a Polish-American social psychologist who specialized in social and cognitive processes such as social facilitation. In addition, an American philosopher, Robert C. Solomon (1942–2007), contributed to the theories on the philosophy of emotions with books such as What Is An Emotion?: Classic and Contemporary Readings (Oxford, 2003).
Influential theorists who are still active include psychologists, neurologists, and philosophers including:
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emotion (plural emotions)
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