In the simplest terms if we speak about emotions, we say that they’re our feelings in certain situations or for certain people or things. In psychology, emotion is defined as a feeling which impacts our emotional, physical and psychological self thus having an impact on our thoughts and behavior.
These emotions may affect our reactions towards several things, personality, motivation levels, mood, etc. The huge variety of emotions and people’s reaction to them have been a subject for research paper writing for a while.
Several psychologist view have analyze to draw conclusion about the concept. According to the psychologist, David G. Meyers, emotion involves … expressive behaviors, physiological arousal, and conscious experience.
The psychologist, Sandra E. Hockenbury and Don Hockenbury, have said that an emotion is define as a complex psychological state involving three separate stages, namely:
- subjective experience,
- physiological response,
- behavioral response.
In addition to giving the definition of emotions, researchers have also tried to classify emotions and figure out their types:
- In 1972, the psychologist Paul Eckman brought out his research paper writing and suggested that there are six universal emotions that are there in everyone:
- In 1999, Eckman expanded his list and included a few more emotions like content, embarrassment, shame, excitement, pride, amusement and satisfaction.
- Robert Plutchik, in 1980, came up with a new way to classify emotions. He combined two emotions making them one and called this as the ‘wheel of emotions’. He proposed 8 primary emotional combinations:
- happiness vs. sadness,
- trust vs. disgust,
- anger vs. fear,
- surprise vs. anticipation.
Further, these emotions can be combined to create other such emotions (such as happiness + anticipation = excitement).
So, to understand what exactly emotions are, as well as their impact on our mental well-being, let us discuss about the key elements of emotion:
The Subjective Experience:
Although certain research paper writings have indicated existence of certain basic emotions, but the way we react to certain situations and the feelings we have, differ from one person to another.
Thus we can have subjective experience of certain emotions. For example: Your results are about to be declared for the examinations held and you score just average marks.
While your competitors may feel happy, you may feel sad. Not only this, you may also experience a combination of emotions while facing a particular situation.
For example: you have been always wishing to get admitted into a top Ivy League college and your wish has been granted. It is going to be your first day at the college,
then you may feel a variety of emotions like excitement and happiness and even nervousness and fear at the same time. This is what Plutchik talked about in his research on emotions.
Although situations may be same for people, their reactions and feelings may differ as per their perspective. Positive reactions may result in mental well-being while negative ones may pose a negative impact on us.
The Physiological Response:
Have you ever encountered increased rate of heartbeat while being in certain situations or being sweaty in the same. This is what we understand by physiological response.
The Canon-Bard Theory states that a person simultaneously faces subjective experience and physiological response. For example: if you are not able to find your homework answers then you may encounter stress and get panic stricken as a result of stress.
Similar, if you encounter a bear in a forest, you will immediate get scare and, you will start shiver and sweat, at the same time. All these physiological response that you face, are due to the work of the sympathetic nervous system
which is a part of our autonomic nervous system, that controls the involuntary actions of the body like respiration, blood flow and heartbeat. The sympathetic nervous system releases the fight or flight hormone as soon as one encounters a situation,
so in the above case of seeing a bear, you could either would have run away or faced the bear head-on. Recent researches have mentioned the important role of brain in our in emotions.
Amygdala, a part of the limbic system, plays a prominent role in emotion and particularly the emotion of fear. Researchers have used brain imaging to show that amygdala (a tiny, almond-shaped structure)
become active when people are shown threaten image and any damage to the amygdala may impair the fear response.
The Behavioural Response-
It is the final stage in this process, wherein after facing a situation and experiencing an emotion you reflect the emotion physically in expressions. For example: smile when happy, frown when sad and the like.
While the Canon-Bard theory suggested the experiencing of emotions and physiological reactions to it, occurring simultaneously, there is James-Lange theory that suggests something different.
This theory suggests that emotions occur as a result of the physiological response we give when we encounter a difficult or scary situation. For example, according to this theory,
if I see a bear then I start shiver which eventually result in the emotion of fear being cause.
The theory states that an external stimulus causes a physiological response
and the cause of emotion on this response depends upon how you react to a particular situation.
For example, if I am not able to figure out my homework answer,
I might feel irritate result in me getting frustrate
while some other person may try to calm himself down not face any emotion of distress and fear.
So it Canon-Bard or James-Lange, all psychologist have work hard
on this theory of emotion and stated how it impact the mental well-being of a person.
If you are happy and satisfy your mind is relax and you may be able to do
whatever you want to but if not, then you may get stressed
and impact your mental health in the process.