Emotion is any conscious experience characterized by intense
mental activity and a certain 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.
Emotions are complex. According to some theories, they are states of
feeling that result 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more likely to be more socially withdrawn and conceal their emotions.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
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.
"Emotions can be defined as a positive or negative experience that is
associated with a particular pattern of physiological activity."
Emotions produce different physiological, behavioral and cognitive
changes. The original role of emotions was to motivate adaptive
behaviors that in the past would have contributed to the survival of
humans. Emotions are responses to significant internal and external
1 Etymology, definitions, history and differentiation
3.1 Basic emotions
3.2 Multi-dimensional analysis
4.1 Ancient Greece, Ancient China, the Islamic Golden Age, and the
4.2 Evolutionary theories
4.3 Somatic theories
4.3.1 James–Lange theory
4.3.2 Cannon–Bard theory
4.3.3 Two-factor theory
4.4 Cognitive theories
4.5 Situated perspective on emotion
6.1 Prefrontal cortex
6.2 Homeostatic/primordial emotion
7 Disciplinary approaches
Psychotherapy and regulation
7.5 Computer science
8 Notable theorists
9 See also
11 Further reading
12 External links
Etymology, definitions, history and differentiation
Sixteen faces expressing the human passions-coloured engraving by J.
Pass, 1821, after Charles Le Brun
The word "emotion" dates back to 1579, when it was adapted from the
French word émouvoir, which means "to stir up". The term emotion was
introduced into academic discussion as a catch-all term to passions,
sentiments and affections. The word emotion was coined in the
early 1800s by Thomas Brown and it is around the 1830s that the modern
concept of emotion first emerged. "No one felt emotions before
about 1830. Instead they felt other things - "passions", "accidents of
the soul", "moral sentiments" - and explained them very differently
from how we understand emotions today."
According to one dictionary, the earliest precursors of the word
likely dates back to the very origins of language. The modern word
emotion is heterogeneous In some uses of the word, emotions are
intense feelings that are directed at someone or something. On the
other hand, emotion can be used to refer to states that are mild (as
in annoyed or content) and to states that are not directed at anything
(as in anxiety and depression). One line of research thus looks at the
meaning of the word emotion in everyday language and this usage is
rather different from that in academic discourse. Another line of
research asks about languages other than English, and one interesting
finding is that many languages have a similar but not identical
term In anthropology, an inability to express or perceive
emotion is sometimes referred to as alexithymia.
Emotions have been described by some theorists as discrete and
consistent responses to internal or external events which have a
particular significance for the organism. Emotions are brief in
duration and consist of a coordinated set of responses, which may
include verbal, physiological, behavioral, and neural mechanisms.
Psychotherapist Michael C. Graham describes all emotions as existing
on a continuum of intensity. Thus fear might range from mild
concern to terror or shame might range from simple embarrassment to
toxic shame. Emotions have also been described as biologically
given and a result of evolution because they provided good solutions
to ancient and recurring problems that faced our ancestors. Moods
are feelings that tend to be less intense than emotions and that often
lack a contextual stimulus.
Emotion can be differentiated from a number of similar constructs
within the field of affective neuroscience:
Feelings are best understood as a subjective representation of
emotions, private to the individual experiencing them.
Moods are diffuse affective states that generally last for much longer
durations than emotions and are also usually less intense than
Affect is an encompassing term, used to describe the topics of
emotion, feelings, and moods together, even though it is commonly used
interchangeably with emotion.
In addition, relationships exist between emotions, such as having
positive or negative influences, with direct opposites existing. These
concepts are described in contrasting and categorization of emotions.
Graham differentiates emotions as functional or dysfunctional and
argues all functional emotions have benefits.
In Scherer's components processing model of emotion, five crucial
elements of emotion are said to exist. From the component processing
perspective, emotion experience is said to require that all of these
processes become coordinated and synchronized for a short period of
time, driven by appraisal processes. Although the inclusion of
cognitive appraisal as one of the elements is slightly controversial,
since some theorists make the assumption that emotion and cognition
are separate but interacting systems, the component processing model
provides a sequence of events that effectively describes the
coordination involved during an emotional episode.
Cognitive appraisal: provides an evaluation of events and objects.
Bodily symptoms: the physiological component of emotional experience.
Action tendencies: a motivational component for the preparation and
direction of motor responses.
Expression: facial and vocal expression almost always accompanies an
emotional state to communicate reaction and intention of actions.
Feelings: the subjective experience of emotional state once it has
Plutchik's wheel of emotions
A distinction can be made between emotional episodes and emotional
dispositions. Emotional dispositions are also comparable to character
traits, where someone may be said to be generally disposed to
experience certain emotions. For example, an irritable person is
generally disposed to feel irritation more easily or quickly than
others do. Finally, some theorists 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 classification of emotions has mainly been researched from two
fundamental viewpoints. The first viewpoint is that emotions are
discrete and fundamentally different constructs while the second
viewpoint asserts that emotions can be characterized on a dimensional
basis in groupings.
Examples of basic emotions
For more than 40 years,
Paul Ekman has supported the view that
emotions are discrete, measurable, and physiologically distinct.
Ekman's most influential work revolved around the finding that certain
emotions appeared to be universally recognized, even in cultures that
were preliterate and could not have learned associations for facial
expressions through media. Another classic study found that when
participants contorted their facial muscles into distinct facial
expressions (for example, disgust), they reported subjective and
physiological experiences that matched the distinct facial
expressions. His research findings led him to classify six emotions as
basic: anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness and surprise.
Robert Plutchik agreed with Ekman's biologically driven perspective
but developed the "wheel of emotions", suggesting eight primary
emotions grouped on a positive or negative basis: joy versus sadness;
anger versus fear; trust versus disgust; and surprise versus
anticipation. Some basic emotions can be modified to form complex
emotions. The complex emotions could arise from cultural conditioning
or association combined with the basic emotions. Alternatively,
similar 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.
Relationships exist between basic emotions, resulting in positive or
Two Dimensions of Emotion
Through the use of multidimensional scaling, psychologists can map out
similar emotional experiences, which allows a visual depiction of the
"emotional distance" between experiences. A further step can be
taken by looking at the map's dimensions of the emotional experiences.
The emotional experiences are divided into two dimensions known as
valence (how negative or positive the experience feels) and arousal
(how energized or enervated the experience feels). These two
dimensions can be depicted on a 2D coordinate map. This
two-dimensional map was theorized to capture one important component
of emotion called core affect. Core affect is not the only
component to emotion, but gives the emotion its hedonic and felt
The idea that core affect is but one component of the emotion led to a
theory called “psychological construction.” According to this
theory, an emotional episode consists of a set of components, each of
which is an ongoing process and none of which is necessary or
sufficient for the emotion to be instantiated. The set of components
is not fixed, either by human evolutionary history or by social norms
and roles. Instead, the emotional episode is assembled at the moment
of its occurrence to suit its specific circumstances. One implication
is that all cases of, for example, fear are not identical but instead
bear a family resemblance to one another.
See also: Functional accounts of emotion
Ancient Greece, Ancient China, the Islamic Golden Age, and the Middle
Theories about emotions stretch back to at least as far as the stoics
of Ancient Greece and Ancient China. In China, excessive emotion was
believed to cause damage to qi, which in turn, damages the vital
organs. The four humours theory made popular by Hippocrates
contributed to the study of emotion in the same way that it did for
During the Islamic Golden Age, Persian polymath
about the influence of emotions on health and behaviors, suggesting
the need to manage emotions.
Western philosophy regarded emotion
in varying ways. In stoic theories it was seen as a hindrance to
reason and therefore a hindrance to virtue.
Aristotle believed that
emotions were an essential component of virtue. In the
Aristotelian view all emotions (called passions) corresponded to
appetites or capacities. During the Middle Ages, the Aristotelian view
was adopted and further developed by scholasticism and Thomas
Aquinas in particular. There are also theories of emotions in the
works of philosophers such as René Descartes, Niccolò Machiavelli,
Baruch Spinoza, Thomas Hobbes and David Hume. In the 19th
century emotions were considered adaptive and were studied more
frequently from an empiricist psychiatric perspective.
Evolution of emotion and Evolutionary psychology
Illustration from Charles Darwin's The Expression of the Emotions in
Man and Animals.
Perspectives on emotions from evolutionary theory were initiated
during the mid-late 19th century with Charles Darwin's 1872 book The
Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. Darwin argued that
emotions actually served a purpose for humans, in communication and
also in aiding their survival. Darwin, therefore, argued that emotions
evolved via natural selection and therefore have universal
cross-cultural counterparts. Darwin also detailed the virtues of
experiencing emotions and the parallel experiences that occur in
animals. This led the way for animal research on emotions and the
eventual determination of the neural underpinnings of emotion.
More contemporary views along the evolutionary psychology spectrum
posit that both basic emotions and social emotions evolved to motivate
(social) behaviors that were adaptive in the ancestral environment.
Current research suggests that emotion is an
essential part of any human decision-making and planning, and the
famous distinction made between reason and emotion is not as clear as
Paul D. MacLean
Paul D. MacLean claims that emotion competes with even more
instinctive responses, on one hand, and the more abstract reasoning,
on the other hand. The increased potential in neuroimaging has also
allowed investigation into evolutionarily ancient parts of the brain.
Important neurological advances were derived from these perspectives
in the 1990s by
Joseph E. LeDoux and António Damásio.
Research on social emotion also focuses on the physical displays of
emotion including body language of animals and humans (see affect
display). For example, spite seems to work against the individual but
it can establish an individual's reputation as someone to be
Shame and pride can motivate behaviors that help one
maintain one's standing in a community, and self-esteem is one's
estimate of one's status.
Somatic theories of emotion claim that bodily responses, rather than
cognitive interpretations, are essential to emotions. The first modern
version of such theories came from
William James in the 1880s. The
theory lost favor 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.
Main article: James–Lange theory
In his 1884 article
William James argued that feelings and
emotions were secondary to physiological phenomena. In his theory,
James proposed that the perception of what he called an "exciting
fact" directly led to a physiological response, known as
"emotion." To account for different types of emotional
experiences, James proposed that stimuli trigger activity in the
autonomic nervous system, which in turn produces an emotional
experience in the brain. The Danish psychologist Carl Lange also
proposed a similar theory at around the same time, and therefore this
theory became known as the James–Lange theory. As James wrote, "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 either we cry, strike, or
tremble because we are sorry, angry, or fearful, as the case may
An example of this theory in action would be as follows: An
emotion-evoking stimulus (snake) triggers a pattern of physiological
response (increased heart rate, faster breathing, etc.), which is
interpreted as a particular emotion (fear). This theory is supported
by experiments in which by manipulating the bodily state induces a
desired emotional state. Some people may believe that emotions
give rise to emotion-specific actions, for example, "I'm crying
because I'm sad," or "I ran away because I was scared." 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 can be argued and is still quite prevalent
today in biofeedback studies and embodiment theory).
Although mostly abandoned in its original form, Tim Dalgleish argues
that most contemporary neuroscientists have embraced the components of
the James-Lange theory of emotions.
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)
Main article: Cannon–Bard theory
Walter Bradford Cannon
Walter Bradford Cannon agreed that physiological responses played a
crucial role in emotions, but did not believe that physiological
responses alone could explain subjective emotional experiences. He
argued that physiological responses were too slow and often
imperceptible and this could not account for the relatively rapid and
intense subjective awareness of emotion. He also believed that the
richness, variety, and temporal course of emotional experiences could
not stem from physiological reactions, that reflected fairly
undifferentiated fight or flight responses. An example of this
theory in action is as follows: An emotion-evoking event (snake)
triggers simultaneously both a physiological response and a conscious
experience of an emotion.
Phillip Bard contributed to the theory with his work on animals. Bard
found that sensory, motor, and physiological information all had to
pass through the diencephalon (particularly the thalamus), before
being subjected to any further processing. Therefore, Cannon also
argued that it was not anatomically possible for sensory events to
trigger a physiological response prior to triggering conscious
awareness and emotional stimuli had to trigger both physiological and
experiential aspects of emotion simultaneously.
Main article: Two-factor theory of emotion
Stanley Schachter formulated his theory on the earlier work of a
Spanish physician, Gregorio Marañón, who injected patients with
epinephrine and subsequently asked them how they felt. Interestingly,
Marañón found that most of these patients felt something but in the
absence of an actual emotion-evoking stimulus, the patients were
unable to interpret their physiological arousal as an experienced
emotion. Schachter did agree that physiological reactions played a big
role in emotions. He suggested that physiological reactions
contributed to emotional experience by facilitating a focused
cognitive appraisal of a given physiologically arousing event and that
this appraisal was what defined the subjective emotional experience.
Emotions were thus a result of two-stage process: general
physiological arousal, and experience of emotion. For example, the
physiological arousal, heart pounding, in a response to an evoking
stimulus, the sight of a bear in the kitchen. The brain then quickly
scans the area, to explain the pounding, and notices the bear.
Consequently, the brain interprets the pounding heart as being the
result of fearing the bear. With his student, Jerome Singer,
Schachter demonstrated that subjects can have different emotional
reactions despite being placed into the same physiological state with
an injection of epinephrine. Subjects were observed to express either
anger or amusement depending on whether another person in the
situation (a confederate) 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.
With the two-factor theory now incorporating cognition, several
theories began to argue that cognitive activity in the form of
judgments, evaluations, or thoughts were entirely necessary for an
emotion to occur. One of the main proponents of this view was Richard
Lazarus who argued that emotions must have some cognitive
intentionality. The cognitive activity involved in the interpretation
of an emotional context may be conscious or unconscious and may or may
not take the form of conceptual processing.
Lazarus' theory is very influential; emotion is a disturbance that
occurs in the following order:
Cognitive appraisal—The individual assesses the event cognitively,
which cues the emotion.
Physiological changes—The cognitive reaction starts biological
changes such as increased heart rate or pituitary adrenal response.
Action—The individual feels the emotion and chooses how to react.
For example: Jenny sees a snake.
Jenny cognitively assesses the snake in her presence.
her to understand it as a danger.
Her brain activates adrenaline gland which pumps adrenaline through
her blood stream resulting in increased heartbeat.
Jenny screams and runs away.
Lazarus stressed that the quality and intensity of emotions are
controlled through cognitive processes. These processes underline
coping strategies that form the emotional reaction by altering the
relationship between the person and the environment.
George Mandler provided an extensive theoretical and empirical
discussion of emotion as influenced by cognition, consciousness, and
the autonomic nervous system in two books (Mind and Emotion, 1975, and
Mind and Body:
Emotion and Stress, 1984)
There are some theories on emotions arguing that cognitive activity in
the form of judgments, evaluations, or thoughts are 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). Solomon claims that emotions are judgments. He has put
forward a more nuanced view which response to what he has called the
‘standard objection’ to cognitivism, the idea that a judgment that
something is fearsome can occur with or without emotion, so judgment
cannot be identified with emotion. 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 behavior. 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.
Theories dealing with perception either use one or multiples
perceptions in order to find an emotion (Goldie, 2007). 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 emphasizes the
meaningfulness of emotions or the idea that emotions are about
something, as is recognized 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.
Affective events theory
This is 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.
Situated perspective on emotion
A situated perspective on emotion, developed by Paul E. Griffiths and
Andrea Scarantino, emphasizes the importance of external factors in
the development and communication of emotion, drawing upon the
situationism approach in psychology. This theory is markedly
different from both cognitivist and neo-Jamesian theories of emotion,
both of which see emotion as a purely internal process, with the
environment only acting as a stimulus to the emotion. In contrast, a
situationist perspective on emotion views emotion as the product of an
organism investigating its environment, and observing the responses of
Emotion stimulates the evolution of social
relationships, acting as a signal to mediate the behavior of other
organisms. In some contexts, the expression of emotion (both voluntary
and involuntary) could be seen as strategic moves in the transactions
between different organisms. The situated perspective on emotion
states that conceptual thought is not an inherent part of emotion,
since emotion is an action-oriented form of skillful engagement with
the world. Griffiths and Scarantino suggested that this perspective on
emotion could be helpful in understanding phobias, as well as the
emotions of infants and animals.
Emotions can motivate social interactions and relationships and
therefore are directly related with basic physiology, particularly
with the stress systems. This is important because emotions are
related to the anti-stress complex, with an oxytocin-attachment
system, which plays a major role in bonding. Emotional phenotype
temperaments affect social connectedness and fitness in complex social
systems (Kurt Kortschal 2013). These characteristics are shared with
other species and taxa and are due to the effects of genes and their
continuous transmission. Information that is encoded in the DNA
sequences provides the blueprint for assembling proteins that make up
our cells. Zygotes require genetic information from their parental
germ cells, and at every speciation event, heritable traits that have
enabled its ancestor to survive and reproduce successfully are passed
down along with new traits that could be potentially beneficial to the
In the five million years since the lineages leading to modern humans
and chimpanzees split, only about 1.2% of their genetic material has
been modified. This suggests that everything that separates us from
chimpanzees must be encoded in that very small amount of DNA,
including our behaviors. Students that study animal behaviors have
only identified intraspecific examples of gene-dependent behavioral
phenotypes. In voles (Microtus spp.) minor genetic differences have
been identified in a vasopressin receptor gene that corresponds to
major species differences in social organization and the mating system
(Hammock & Young 2005). Another potential example with behavioral
differences is the FOCP2 gene, which is involved in neural circuitry
handling speech and language (Vargha-Khadem et al. 2005). Its present
form in humans differed from that of the chimpanzees by only a few
mutations and has been present for about 200,000 years, coinciding
with the beginning of modern humans (Enard et al. 2002). Speech,
language, and social organization are all part of the basis for
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. Emotions can likely be mediated by pheromones (see
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
Lövheim cube of emotion
Emotions are thought to be related to certain activities 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.
In 2011, Lövheim proposed a direct relation between specific
combinations of the levels of the signal substances dopamine,
noradrenaline and serotonin and eight basic emotions. A model was
presented where the signal substances form the axes of a coordinate
system, and the eight basic emotions according to
Silvan Tomkins are
placed in the eight corners.
Anger is, according to the model, for
example produced by the combination of low serotonin, high dopamine
and high noradrenaline.
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
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
Another neurological approach proposed by Bud Craig in 2003
distinguishes two classes of emotion: "classical" emotions such as
love, anger and fear that are evoked by environmental stimuli, and
"homeostatic emotions" – attention-demanding feelings evoked by
body states, such as pain, hunger and fatigue, that motivate behavior
(withdrawal, eating or resting in these examples) aimed at maintaining
the body's internal milieu at its ideal state.
Derek Denton calls the latter "primordial emotions" and defines them
as "the subjective element of the instincts, which are the genetically
programmed behavior patterns which contrive homeostasis. They include
thirst, hunger for air, hunger for food, pain and hunger for specific
minerals etc. There are two constituents of a primordial emotion--the
specific sensation which when severe may be imperious, and the
compelling intention for gratification by a consummatory act."
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.
Nursing studies emotions as part of its approach to the provision of
holistic health care to 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 is 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 e-mail 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
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.
The history of emotions has become an increasingly popular topic
recently, with some scholars[who?] arguing that it is an essential
category of analysis, not unlike class, race, or gender. Historians,
like other social scientists, assume that emotions, feelings and their
expressions are regulated in different ways by both different cultures
and different historical times, and the constructivist school of
history claims even that some sentiments and meta-emotions, for
example Schadenfreude, are learnt and not only regulated by culture.
Historians of emotion trace and analyse the changing norms and rules
of feeling, while examining emotional regimes, codes, and lexicons
from social, cultural, or political history perspectives. Others focus
on the history of medicine, science, or psychology. What somebody can
and may feel (and show) in a given situation, towards certain people
or things, depends on social norms and rules; thus historically
variable and open to change. Several research centers have opened
in the past few years in Germany, England, Spain, Sweden, and
Furthermore, research in historical trauma suggests that some
traumatic emotions can be passed on from parents to offspring to
second and even third generation, presented as examples of
Sociology of emotions
A common way in which emotions are conceptualized in sociology is in
terms of the multidimensional characteristics including cultural or
emotional labels (for example, anger, pride, fear, happiness),
physiological changes (for example, increased perspiration, changes in
pulse rate), expressive facial and body movements (for example,
smiling, frowning, baring teeth), and appraisals of situational
cues. One comprehensive theory of emotional arousal in humans has
been developed by Jonathan Turner (2007: 2009). Two of the key
eliciting factors for the arousal of emotions within this theory are
expectations states and sanctions. When people enter a situation or
encounter with certain expectations for how the encounter should
unfold, they will experience different emotions depending on the
extent to which expectations for Self, other and situation are met or
not met. People can also provide positive or negative sanctions
directed at Self or other which also trigger different emotional
experiences in individuals. Turner analyzed a wide range of emotion
theories across different fields of research including sociology,
psychology, evolutionary science, and neuroscience. Based on this
analysis, he identified four emotions that all researchers consider
being founded on human neurology including assertive-anger,
aversion-fear, satisfaction-happiness, and disappointment-sadness.
These four categories are called primary emotions and there is some
agreement amongst researchers that these primary emotions become
combined to produce more elaborate and complex emotional experiences.
These more elaborate emotions are called first-order elaborations in
Turner's theory and they include sentiments such as pride, triumph,
and awe. Emotions can also be experienced at different levels of
intensity so that feelings of concern are a low-intensity variation of
the primary emotion aversion-fear whereas depression is a higher
Attempts are frequently made to regulate emotion according to the
conventions of the society and the situation based on many (sometimes
conflicting) demands and expectations which originate from various
entities. The emotion of anger is in many cultures discouraged in
girls and women (expression of anger is also discouraged in men
because a man is seen as a threat if he shows anger, which causes
people to avoid him or treat him as a danger - particularly women),
while fear is discouraged in boys and men. Expectations attached to
social roles, such as "acting as man" and not as a woman, and the
accompanying "feeling rules" contribute to the differences in
expression of certain emotions. Some cultures encourage or discourage
happiness, sadness, or jealousy, and the free expression of the
emotion of disgust is considered socially unacceptable in most
cultures. Some social institutions are seen as based on certain
emotion, such as love in the case of contemporary institution of
marriage. In advertising, such as health campaigns and political
messages, emotional appeals are commonly found. Recent examples
include no-smoking health campaigns and political campaigns
emphasizing the fear of terrorism.
Sociological attention to emotion has varied over time. Émile
Durkheim (1915/1965) wrote about the collective effervescence or
emotional energy that was experienced by members of totemic rituals in
Australian aborigine society. He explained how the heightened state of
emotional energy achieved during totemic rituals transported
individuals above themselves giving them the sense that they were in
the presence of a higher power, a force, that was embedded in the
sacred objects that were worshipped. These feelings of exaltation, he
argued, ultimately lead people to believe that there were forces that
governed sacred objects.
In the 1990s, sociologists focused on different aspects of specific
emotions and how these emotions were socially relevant. For Cooley
(1992), pride and shame were the most important emotions that
drive people to take various social actions. During every encounter,
he proposed that we monitor ourselves through the "looking glass" that
the gestures and reactions of others provide. Depending on these
reactions, we either experience pride or shame and this results in
particular paths of action. Retzinger (1991) conducted studies of
married couples who experienced cycles of rage and shame. Drawing
predominantly on Goffman and Cooley's work, Scheff (1990)
developed a micro sociological theory of the social bond. The
formation or disruption of social bonds is dependent on the emotions
that people experience during interactions.
Subsequent to these developments,
Randall Collins (2004)
formulated his interaction ritual theory by drawing on Durkheim's work
on totemic rituals that was extended by Goffman (1964/2013;
1967) into everyday focused encounters. Based on interaction
ritual theory, we experience different levels or intensities of
emotional energy during face-to-face interactions. Emotional energy is
considered to be a feeling of confidence to take action and a boldness
that one experiences when they are charged up from the collective
effervescence generated during group gatherings that reach high levels
There is a growing body of research applying the sociology of emotion
to understanding the learning experiences of students during classroom
interactions with teachers and other students (for example, Milne
& Otieno, 2007; Olitsky, 2007; Tobin, et al., 2013;
Zembylas, 2002). These studies show that learning subjects like
science can be understood in terms of classroom interaction rituals
that generate emotional energy and collective states of emotional
arousal like emotional climate.
Apart from interaction ritual traditions of the sociology of emotion,
other approaches have been classed into one of 6 other categories
(Turner, 2009) including:
symbolic interactionist theories,
power and status theories,
stratification theories, and
This list provides a general overview of different traditions in the
sociology of emotion that sometimes conceptualise emotion in different
ways and at other times in complementary ways. Many of these different
approaches were synthesized by Turner (2007) in his sociological
theory of human emotions in an attempt to produce one comprehensive
sociological account that draws on developments from many of the above
  
Psychotherapy and regulation
Emotion regulation refers to the cognitive and behavioral strategies
people use to influence their own emotional experience. For
example, a behavioral strategy in which one avoids a situation to
avoid unwanted emotions (trying not to think about the situation,
doing distracting activities, etc.). Depending on the particular
school's general emphasis on either cognitive components of emotion,
physical energy discharging, or on symbolic movement and facial
expression components of emotion, different schools of
psychotherapy approach the regulation of emotion differently.
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).
Research on emotions reveals the strong presence of cross-cultural
differences in emotional reactions and that emotional reactions are
likely to be culture-specific. In strategic settings,
cross-cultural research on emotions is required for understanding the
psychological situation of a given population or specific actors. This
implies the need to comprehend the current emotional state, mental
disposition or other behavioral motivation of a target audience
located in a different culture, basically founded on its national
political, social, economic, and psychological peculiarities but also
subject to the influence of circumstances and events.
Main article: Affective computing
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. The pioneer F-M Facial Action
Coding System 2.0 (F-M FACS 2.0)  was created in 2017 by Dr.
Freitas-Magalhães, and presents about 2,000 segments in 4K, using 3D
technology and automatic and real-time recognition.
In the late 19th 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
Silvan Tomkins (1911–1991) developed the
Affect theory and Script
Affect theory introduced the concept of basic emotions,
and was based on the idea that the dominance of the emotion, which he
called the affected system, was the motivating force in human
Some of the most influential theorists on emotion from the 20th
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 A. Simon
Herbert A. 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; Robert C. Solomon
(1942–2007), an American philosopher who contributed to the theories
on the philosophy of emotions with books such as What Is An Emotion?:
Classic and Contemporary Readings (Oxford, 2003); Peter Goldie
(1946–2011), a British philosopher who specialized in ethics,
aesthetics, emotion, mood and character;
Nico Frijda (1927–2015), a
Dutch psychologist who advanced the theory that human emotions serve
to promote a tendency to undertake actions that are appropriate in the
circumstances, detailed in his book The Emotions (1986); Jaak Panksepp
(1943-2017), an Estonian-born American psychologist, psychobiologist,
neuroscientist and pioneer in affective neuroscience.
Influential theorists who are still active include the following
psychologists, neurologists, philosophers, and sociologists:
Lisa Feldman Barrett – Social philosopher and psychologist
specializing in affective science and human emotion.
John Cacioppo – from the University of Chicago, founding father with
Gary Berntson of social neuroscience.
Randall Collins - (born 1941) American sociologist from the University
of Pennsylvania developed the interaction ritual theory which includes
emotional entrainment model.
António Damásio (born 1944) – Portuguese behavioral neurologist
and neuroscientist who works in the US.
Richard Davidson (born 1951) – American psychologist and
neuroscientist; pioneer in affective neuroscience.
Paul Ekman (born 1934) –
Psychologist specializing in the study of
emotions and their relation to facial expressions.
Barbara Fredrickson – Social psychologist who specializes in
emotions and positive psychology.
Arlie Russell Hochschild
Arlie Russell Hochschild (born 1940) – American sociologist whose
central contribution was in forging a link between the subcutaneous
flow of emotion in social life and the larger trends set loose by
modern capitalism within organizations.
Joseph E. LeDoux (born 1949) – American neuroscientist who studies
the biological underpinnings of memory and emotion, especially the
mechanisms of fear.
George Mandler (born 1924) - American psychologist who wrote
influential books on cognition and emotion.
Jesse Prinz – American philosopher who specializes in emotion, moral
psychology, aesthetics and consciousness.
James A. Russell (born 1947) – American psychologist who developed
or co-developed the PAD theory of environmental impact, circumplex
model of affect, prototype theory of emotion concepts, a critique of
the hypothesis of universal recognition of emotion from facial
expression, concept of core affect, developmental theory of
differentiation of emotion concepts, and, more recently, the theory of
the psychological construction of emotion.
Klaus Scherer (born 1943) – Swiss psychologist and director of the
Swiss Center for Affective Sciences in Geneva; he specializes in the
psychology of emotion.
Ronald de Sousa (born 1940) – English–Canadian philosopher who
specializes in the philosophy of emotions, philosophy of mind and
philosophy of biology.
Jonathan H. Turner (born 1942) - American sociologist from the
University of California, Riverside
University of California, Riverside who is a general sociological
theorist with specialty areas including the sociology of emotions,
ethnic relations, social institutions, social stratification, and
Dominique Moïsi (born 1946) - Authored a book titled The Geopolitics
Emotion focusing on emotions related to globalization.
Contrasting and categorization of emotions
Donald B. Lindsley
Emotion in animals
Emotions and culture
Emotion and memory
Emotions in virtual communication
Facial feedback hypothesis
Facial Action Coding System
International Affective Picture System
List of emotions
Two-factor theory of emotion
Sociology of emotions
Social sharing of emotions
Somatic markers hypothesis
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