Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on whatsapp

Emotion represents a complex of affective states that implies conscious or unconscious experiences which lead to psychological responses that either inhibit or facilitate the motivation of behaviour.

Emotions exert an incredibly powerful force on human behavior. Strong emotions can cause you to take actions you might not normally perform or to avoid situations you enjoy. Why exactly do we have emotions? What causes us to have these feelings? Researchers, philosophers, and psychologists have proposed different theories to explain the how and why behind human emotions.

We are so made, that we can only derive intense enjoyment from a contrast and only very little from a state of things.

What are emotions?

In psychology, emotion is often defined as a complex state of feeling that results in physical and psychological changes that influence thought and behaviour.

Emotionality is associated with a range of psychological phenomena, including temperament, personality, mood, and motivation. According to author David G. Meyers (buy his books from Amazon), human emotion involves “…physiological arousal, expressive behaviors, and conscious experience.”

The great majority of psychologists accept the existence of four defining characteristics of emotions:

  • stimulus events that determine the response
  • a positive or negative conscious affective tonality of the experience
  • certain physiological manifestations produced by the vegetative nervous system and endocrine glands
  • a behaviour that generally accompanies the feelings.

Basic Emotions & other Affective States

A 2009 review of theories of emotion written by D. L. Robinson, Brain function, mental experience and personality identifies and contrasts fundamental emotions according to three key criteria for mental experiences that: 

  1. have a strongly motivating subjective quality like pleasure or pain;
  2. are a response to some event or object that is either real or imagined;
  3. motivate particular kinds of behaviour.

The combination of these attributes distinguishes emotions from sensations, feelings and moods. 

Another feature that tells apart these affective states is the period of time over which they manifest, ranging from whole years to merely minutes, along with the attribute of the intensity with which they are felt.

Kind of emotionPositive emotionsNegative emotions
Related to object propertiesInterest, curiosity, enthusiasmIndifference, habituation, boredom
Attraction, desire, admirationAversion, disgust, revulsion
Surprise, amusementAlarm, panic
Future appraisalHope, excitementFear, anxiety, dread
Event-relatedGratitude, thankfulnessAnger, rage
Joy, elation, triumph, jubilationSorrow, grief
PatienceFrustration, restlessness
ContentmentDiscontentment, disappointment
Self-appraisalHumility, modestyPride, arrogance
SocialCharityAvarice, greed, miserliness, envy, jealousy
SympathyCruelty
CathectedLoveHate

Major Theories

The major theories of emotion can be grouped into three main categories: physiological, neurological, and cognitive.

Physiological theories suggest that responses within the body are responsible for feelings.

Neurological theories propose that activity within the brain leads to affective responses.

Finally, cognitive theories argue that thoughts and other mental activity play an essential role in forming emotions.

Across time, there have been many psychologists that postulated different theories regarding emotions and their role in the human society. Some believed that emotions have an evolutionary role in the survival of our specie, others focused on the cognitive and experimental aspects of the effects our emotions seem to ignite in our systems. Nevertheless, all agreed on the crucial importance they have in our understanding and our relations with each other and with the surrounding world.

Paul Ekman’s Theory of Emotion

The framework described by Paul Ekman is influenced by Charles Darwin and Silvan Solomon Tomkins, although he himself stated that he did not accept in tot what either of them said. Ekman sustained there are three meanings for the term “basic” as you can read his argumentation in the article.

Ekman considers that emotional expressions are crucial to the development and regulation of interpersonal relationships. His studies demonstrated that facial expressions play an important role in the formation of attachments and are involved in the formation, acceleration or deceleration of aggressive behaviour. 

| Read Now |

Robert Plutchik’s Theory of Emotion

Robert Plutchik proposed a psychoevolutionary classification approach for general emotional responses. He considered there to be eight primary emotions—anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise, anticipation, trust, and joy. Plutchik argues for the primacy of these emotions by showing each to be the trigger of behaviour with high survival value, such as the way fear inspires the fight-or-flight response.

| Read Now |

The James-Lange Theory of Emotions

William James, known as the father of American Psychology, developed along with his 19th Century fellow psychologist Carl Lange the James-Lange theory which considers that environmental events lead to the apparition of muscular and visceral responses, and that these responses eventually determine emotions. Instead of feeling an emotion and subsequent physiological (bodily) response, the theory proposes that the physiological change is primary, and emotion is after that experienced, as the brain reacts to the information received via the body’s nervous system.

The emotion follows the behaviour, and does not determine it.

| Read Now |
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on whatsapp
Featured Image for Paul Ekman's Theory of Emotions - collage artwork

Paul Ekman’s Theory of Emotion

The framework described by Paul Ekman is influenced by Charles Darwin and Silvan Solomon Tomkins, although he himself stated that he did not accept in tot what either of them said. Ekman sustained there are three meanings for the term “basic” as you can read his argumentation in the article.

Ekman considers that emotional expressions are crucial to the development and regulation of interpersonal relationships. His studies demonstrated that facial expressions play an important role in the formation of attachments and are involved in the formation, acceleration or deceleration of aggressive behaviour. 

| Read Now |
Features Image for The Social Genetic Model of Cognitive Development - Multicoloured Brain displayed in a social environment

The Social Genetic Model of Cognitive Development

During the 1970′, at Geneva, a new perspective on cognitive development has begun to emerge. The self-defined school of socio-genetical psychology advanced theories that represented a challenge addressed to the spirit of genetical epistemology.

Willem Doise, Gabriel Mugny and Jean Claude Deschamp, to name but a few of the representatives, declare that social interactions constitute the privileged setting which gives birth to the intellectual acquisitions of the child. There is a direct cause and effect link between social interaction and individual cognitive development.

| Read Now |
Collage Artwork used as featured image for Robert Plutchik's Theroy of Emotions

Robert Plutchik’s Theory of Emotion

Robert Plutchik proposed a psychoevolutionary classification approach for general emotional responses. He considered there to be eight primary emotions—anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise, anticipation, trust, and joy. Plutchik argues for the primacy of these emotions by showing each to be the trigger of behaviour with high survival value, such as the way fear inspires the fight-or-flight response.

| Read Now |
The Most Effective Mindfulness Exercises featured image

4 Most Effective Mindfulness Techniques

Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment, which one can develop through the practice of meditation and through other training. Mindfulness is derived from Sati, a significant element of Buddhist traditions, and based on Zen, Vipassanā, and Tibetan meditation techniques.
Mindfulness practice has been employed to reduce symptoms of depression, to reduce stress, anxiety, and in the treatment of drug addiction. Moreover, research has shown that people who meditate are happier, healthier, and more successful than those who don’t.
In this articles we present the most effective and easy-to-practice mindfulness approaches for everyday life.

| Read Now |
Featured Image for Abraham maslow's Hierarchy of Needs - Pile of stone placed on top of other in a hierarchy

Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham H. Maslow felt as though conditioning theories did not adequately capture the complexity of human behavior. In a 1943 paper called A Theory of Human Motivation, Maslow presented the idea that human actions are directed toward goal attainment. Any given behavior could satisfy several functions at the same time; for instance, going to a bar could satisfy one’s needs for self-esteem and for social interaction. His theory later became known as the human hierarchy of needs.

| Read Now |
Featured Image for Albert bandura's Concept of Self-efficacy - Surreal Collage image depicting a rainbow exiting a woman's face

Albert Bandura’s Concept of Self-efficacy

Albert Bandura’s concept of Self-efficacy, or confidence as it is commonly known, is one of the most enabling psychology models to have been adopted into positive psychology.

Self-efficacy is an individual’s optimistic belief in their innate ability, competence or chances of succesfully accomplishing a task and producing a favorable outcome.

| Read Now |

Envision your Evolution

| Read yourself to health |

Infinite inside
A greater, sunny freedom
an Intelligence

Envision your Evolution 2020 © All Rights Reserved
As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
Scroll to Top