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What Are Emotions, Even?

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/02/hard-feelings-sciences-struggle-to-define-emotions/385711/

theatlantic.com

What Are Emotions, Even?
While it's possible for researchers to study facial expressions, brain patterns, behavior, and more, each of these is only part of a more elusive whole.

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There are six basic emotions

There are six basic emotions

In the 1960s, researchers started to study facial expressions that matched six basic emotions: happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear, and disgust.

Some researchers now say there are fewer than six basic emotions, and others say there are more (up to 21). But the idea remains that emotions are biologically universal to all humans, and displayed through facial expressions.

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Emtion: The concept

  • In the 1950s, psychologists were focused on behaviourism while mostly ignoring emotions.
  • The word "emotion" did not exist in the English language until the early 17th century.
  • For centuries, the mental state to which "emotions" now refer were called either passions or affections.
  • In the early 19th century, Scottish philosopher Thomas Brown was the first to propose emotion as a theoretical category. However, he was unable to define it.

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The natural-kind view of emotion

When asked to explain in words what emotion is, we may come up with ideas that feel right, such as "sensitivity to events," or "your mind's reaction to experience," but fundamentally, emotions are intangible and the definitions offered are not good enough for science.

Words like "joy" and "rage" describe a set of complex processes in the brain and the body that are not always related.

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Naming emotions from photos

A 1980 study found that when people were shown photographs with posed pictures, people were 80 percent likely to label the expressions correctly. However, when they were shown photos of spontaneous emotions, the rate of recognition went down to 26 percent.

Psychologist Paul Ekman claims that microexpressions can show what people are feeling, even when they try to hide it.

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Measuring emotions

Critics state that facial expressions are not the measurement of emotions. Measuring what someone actually feels is difficult to do with anything other than self-report. However, even this methodology is inefficient since the memory for emotional experience is highly unreliable.

There is still no consensus on what emotions are. Scientists agree more on what emotion does than what it is.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Human Emotions

An emotion is an objective state that exhibits itself in many ways like behavior, facial expression, heart rate, blood pressure, and stress-hormone levels. Broadly speaking, we kn...

New Kinds of Emotions

  • Mix N match Emotions: FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is a newly coined mix of envy, fear, and sadness.
  • Social Emotions: Feelings like guilt, shame and embarrassment are social emotions, and can even be found in dogs.
  • Fear: Emotions like fear and anxiety are hard to pinpoint in the brain's geographical area, due to the presence of multiple fear circuits.

If our emotions are constructed by our minds, it means they can also be de-constructed or even reconstructed.

Labelling Emotions

The brain loves to identify, tag, or label all the feelings and emotions that are being experienced.

New studies show that changing the name of the emotion can change the feeling that is produced by hearing that emotion, and the brain may be able to create or make up emotions that don't have a label yet.

Emotions

They are basal responses that begin in the subcortical areas of the brain responsible for producing biochemical reactions to environmental stimuli that have a direct impact on our physical state.&n...

Feelings

Feelings are preceded by emotions and tend to be our reactions to them. Emotions are a more generalized experience across humans, but feelings are more subjective and influenced by our personal experiences and interpretations, thus they are harder to measure.

Negative Emotions

They can be defined as unpleasant or unhappy emotions evoked in individuals to express a negative effect towards something.

Although some are labeled negative, all emotions are normal to the human experience. And it’s important to understand when and why negative emotions might arise, and develop positive behaviors to address them.

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Smile ≠ happy

Smile ≠  happy

Those who smile often are thought of as more likeable, competent, approachable, friendly and attractive.

Of 19 different types of smile, only six occur when we’re having a good time...

Duchenne smile

Duchenne was interested in the mechanics of facial expressions, including how the muscles of the face contract to produce a smile.

The Duchenne‘ smile is long and intense, though it involves the contraction of just two muscles. First the zygomatic major, which resides in the cheek, tugs at the corners of the mouth, then the orbicularis oculi, which surrounds the eye, pulls up the cheeks, leading to the characteristic ‘twinkling eyes’.

Fear smile

“When bonobo chimpanzees are afraid they’ll expose their teeth and draw their lips back so that their gums are exposed,” says Zanna Clay, a primatologist at the University of Birmingham.

In babies, a broad grin can either mean they’re happy or distressed and studies have shown that men tend to smile more around those considered to be higher status.