Emotions typically arise as reactions to important life events. Once activated, emotions
generate feelings, arouse the body to action, generate motivational states, and produce
recognizable facial expressions.
1. What is an emotion?
2. What causes an emotion?
3. How many emotions are there?
4. What good are the emotions?
5. What is the difference between emotion and mood?
Emotions are more complex than first meets the eye. At first glance, we all know
emotions as feelings. However, feelings are only part of the emotion.
Emotions are multidimensional. They exist as subjective, biological, purposive, and
- subjective feelings, as they make us feel a particular way
Emotions are also biological reactions, energy-mobilizing responses that prepare the
body for adapting to whatever situation one faces.
Emotions are also agents or purpose.
- Ex) anger: creates a motivational desire to do what we might not otherwise do,
such as fight an enemy or protest an injustice
Emotions are social phenomena.
- When emotional, we send recognizable facial, postural, and vocal signals that
communicate the quality and intensity or our emotionality to others. Emotion’s four dimensions
The feeling component gives emotion its subjective experience that has both meaning
and personal significance. In both intensity and quality, emotion is felt and experienced
at the subjective level. The feeling aspect is rooted in cognitive or mental processes.
The bodily arousal component includes our neural and physiological activation,
including the activity of the autonomic and hormonal systems as they prepare and
regulate the body’s adaptive coping behaviour during emotion.
The purposive component gives emotion its goal-directed character to take the action
necessary to cope with the circumstances at hand. The purposive aspect explains shy
people want to do what they do and why people benefit from their emotions.
The social-expressive component is emotion’s communicative aspect. During the
expression of emotion, we nonverbally communicate to others how we feel and how we
interpret the present situation. Emotions therefore engage our whole person-our
feelings, bodily arousal, sense of purpose, and nonverbal communications.
Emotions are short-lived, feeling-arousal-purposive-expressive phenomena that help us
adapt to the opportunities and challenges we face during important life events.
Emotion is the psychological construct that unites and coordinates these four aspects of
experience into a synchronized pattern.
Emotion is that which choreographs the feeling, arousal, purposive, and expressive
components into a coherent reaction to an eliciting event.
This definition of emotion highlights how different aspects of experience complement
and coordinate with one another. The interrelationships and the intercoordination among
the four different components of emotion are shown graphically in Figure 11.1 by the
thin, curved lines that connect each aspect of emotion to each of the other three
aspects. The two-way arrows communicate that, for instance, changes in feelings
influence and co-occur with bodily arousal just as changes in bodily arousal influence
and co-occur with feelings. Emotions are the synchronized systems that coordinate feeling, arousal, purpose, and
expression so to ready the individual to adapt successfully to life circumstances.
Emotion is the word psychologists use to name this coordinated, synchronized process.
Emotions relate to motivation in two ways.
1. Emotions are one type of motive. Like all other motives, emotions energize and
2. Emotions serve as an ongoing “readout” system to indicate how well or how
poorly personal adaptation is going.
Most emotion researchers agree that emotions function as one type of motive. They
argue that emotions constitute the primary motivational system. –책책책 책책 책책 책책
Emotions read out the person’s ever-changing motivational states and personal
adaptation status. Positive emotions signal that “all is well,” reflect the involvement and
satisfaction of our motivational states, and evidence our successful adaptation to what
is going on around us; negative emotions act as a warning signal that “all is not well,”
reflect the neglect and frustration of our motivational states, and evidence our
unsuccessful adaptation to what is going on around us.
From this point of view, emotions are not necessarily motives in the same way that
needs and cognitions are, but, instead, reflect the satisfied versus frustrated status of
Encountering a significant life event activates cognitive and biological processes that
collectively activate the critical components of emotion, including feelings, bodily
arousal, goal-directed purpose, and expression.
If emotions are largely biological, they should emanate from a causal biological core,
such as neuroanatomical brain circuits. If emotions are largely cognitive, however, they
should emanate from causal mental events, such as subjective appraisals of what the situation means.
For the biological theorist, emotions can and do occur without a prior cognitive event,
but they cannot occur without a prior biological event. Biology, not cognition, is therefore
By the time the child acquires language and begins to use sophisticated long-term
memory capacities, most emotional events then involve a great deal of cognitive
Much of the emotional processing of life events remains noncognitive-automatic,
unconscious, and mediated by subcortical structures.
Emotions happen to us, as we act emotionally even before we are consciously aware of
that emotionally. Emotions are biological because they evolved through their adaptive
value in dealing with fundamental life tasks.
Brain circuits provide the essential biological underpinning for emotional experience.
Three important findings:
1. Because emotional states are often difficult to verbalize, they must therefore
have origins that are noncognitive (not language based).
2. Emotional experience can be induced by noncognitive procedures, such as
electrical stimulation of the brain or activity of the facial musculature.
3. Emotions occur in infants and nonhuman animals.
Without an understanding of the personal relevance of an event’s potential impact on
personal well-being, there is no reason to respond emotionally. Stimuli appraised as
irrelevant do not elicit emotional reactions. The individual’s cognitive appraisal of the
meaning of an event (rather than the event itself) sets the stage for emotional experience. The emotion-generating process begins not with the event and not with
one’s biological reaction to it, but instead with the cognitive appraisal of its meaning.
Following a success, believing that it was caused by the self produces one emotion
(pride) while believing that same success was caused by a friend produces a different
emotion (gratitude). Notice that both the outcome and the life event might be the same,
but if the attribution is different, then so is the emotional experience.
Human beings have two synchronous systems that activate and regulate emotion.
One system is an innate, spontaneous, physiological system that reacts involuntarily to
emotional stimuli. A second system is an experience-based cognitive system that reacts
interpretatively and socially. The physiological emotion system came first in
humankind’s evolution, whereas the cognitive emotion system came later as human
beings became increasingly cerebral and increasingly social. Together, the primitive
biological system and the contemporary cognitive system combine to provide a highly
adaptive, two-system emotion mechanism.
The lower system is biological and traces its origins to the ancient evolutionary history
of the species. The second system is cognitive and depends on the unique social and
cultural learning history of the individual. The two emotion systems are complementary
and work together to activate and regulate emotional experience.
Emotions such as fear and anger arise primarily from subcortical neural command
circuits. Other emotions such as gratitude and hope, however, cannot be well explained
by subcortical neural circuits. Instead, arise chiefly from personal experience, social
modeling, and cultural contexts. This category of emotions arises primarily from
appraisals, expectancies, and attributions.
Emotion should not conceptualize as cognitively caused or as biologically caused.
Emotion is a process, a chain of events that aggregate into a complex feedback system.
The feedback system begins with a significant life event and concludes with emotion.
Mediating between event and emotion is a complex interactive chain of events. Change the cognitive appraisal from ‘this is beneficial’ to ‘this is harmful,’ and the
emotion will change. Change the quality of the arousal (as through exercise, a drug),
and the emotion will change. Change bodily expression (facial musculature, bodily
posture), and the emotion will change.
The most important theme to extract from a chicken-and-egg analysis is that cognitions
do not directly cause emotions any more than biological events do.
Emotions are complex (and interactive) phenomenon. Generally speaking, biologists,
ethologists, and neurophysiologists focus mostly on the biological aspects of emotion,
whereas cognitive psychologists, social psychologists, and sociologists focus mostly on
its cognitive, sociocultural aspects.
Social and cultural contributions to emotional experience
HOW MANY EMOTIONS ARE THERE?
Any answer to the “how many emotions are there?” question depends on whether one
favors a biological or a cognitive orientation.
Two biological perspective typically emphasizes primary emotions, with a lower limit of
two or three to an upper limit of 10.
The number of emotions suggested by the empirical findings within that tradition, it
explains the rationale on which the theorist proposes that number of emotions, and it
offers a supportive reference citation for further reading.
Richard Solomon (1980) identifies two hedonic, unconscious brain systems that exist
such that any pleasurable experience is automatically and reflexively opposed by a
counter-aversion experience, just as any aversive experience is automatically and
reflexively opposed by a counter-pleasurable process.
Gray (1994) proposes three basic emotions rooted in separate brain circuits: the
behavioral approach system (joy), the fight-or-flight system (anger/fear), and the
behavioral inhibition system (anxiety). Jaak Panksepp (1982) proposes four emotions- fear, rage, panic, and expectancy-
based on his finding of four separate neuroanatomical emotion-generating pathways
within the limbic system.
Nancy Stein and Tom Trabasso (1992) stress the four emotions of happiness, sadness,
anger, and fear because these emotions reflect reactions to life’s essential pursuits:
attainment (happiness), loss (sadness), obstruction (anger), and uncertainty (fear).
Silvan Tomkins (1994) distinguishes six emotions- interest, fear, surprise, anger,
distress, and joy – because he finds six distinct patters of neural firing produce these
Paul Ekman (1980) proposes six distinct emotions- fear, anger, sadness, disgust,
enjoyment, and contempt- because he finds that each of these emotions is associated
with a corresponding universal (cross-cultural) facial expression.
Robert Plutchik (1991) lists eight emotions- anger, disgust, sadness, surprise, fear,
acceptance, joy, and anticipation- because each one corresponds to an emotion-
behavior syndrome common to all