Business NLP Blog

The psychology of emotions

What are emotions?

In the context of psychology, emotions are defined as a conscious, although subjective, experience which is comprised of biological reactions, mental states, and psychophysiological expressions. Emotions can be easily influenced by external factors—such as specific experiences and events—as well as internal factors, such as personality, mood, and personal experiences. Emotions can also be affected by biological factors such as hormones, which may make emotions more intense or encourage negative emotions such as depression or aggression.

The psychology of emotions

Emotions are a fairly subjective concept, although there are some ways that scientists can measure emotions such as happiness, sadness, and so on, through the presence of certain hormones or other chemicals in the body and brain when certain experiences occur. The type of emotion being experienced will often depend on numerous factors which can vary from person to person. For example: What might trigger sadness in one person may not trigger sadness in another person. For instance, if one person feels sad when watching an emotional scene in a motion picture film, it does not mean that everyone else who watches that exact scene will also feel sadness. The emotion felt by the person who did experience sadness was likely influenced by a number of factors—including their overall mood, their hormone levels, as well as their personal experiences which may cause them to feel more triggered into emotions by certain scenarios.

Components of emotions

Emotions are made up of several different components. These components can help psychologists and scientists better understand and classify emotions. The Scherer model of emotional components lists five different important elements of emotions: cognitive appraisal, bodily symptoms, action tendencies, expression, and feelings. The cognitive appraisal component refers to the cognitive evaluation which evaluates the experience which is currently being processed; this evaluation can help determine what emotion may be triggered. The bodily symptoms component refers to the physiological symptoms which are experienced during a motion—for example; the emotion of fear is often accompanied by a racing heartbeat.

The psychology of emotions

The action tendencies component refers to the component which is motivational and directs the motor responses which may occur during an emotion. For example, the emotion of fear is often accompanied by heightened motor sensitivity and an increase in adrenaline, such as the ability to run faster or lift heavier objects when under the duress of fear. The expression component refers to both facial and vocal expressions which accompany certain emotional states. For example, happiness usually elicits expression components such as a higher vocal tone and facial expressions such as smiles and lifted eyebrows. And finally, the feelings component refers to the subjective feelings which are experienced during certain emotions. Feelings are often the result of a combination of physical symptoms and emotional states; for example, when fear is experienced, the heart rate increases in conjunction with the emotion of fear, causing the feeling of stress. Different people may experience different feelings during the same emotions. For example, one person may experience stress during fear, while another person may experience frustration or annoyance during fear.

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