Ed Bockelman

What Are Emotions?

This is a machine-generated summary of the article What Are Emotions? at BrightOutlook.com.

As I was writing about emotional intelligence, I began to wonder, what are emotions?

What can science tell us?

While researching this topic, I found what I consider to be the mother lode. I'm breaking from my practice of using multiple sources to gain a well-rounded understanding of a topic, and I will focus this entire post on one article.

This is no ordinary scholarly article.

How much do we know about emotions?

No aspect of our mental life is more important to the quality and meaning of our existence than emotions.

Despite the research done on emotions in the last 100 years, we still don't have a clear understanding of what they are.

A person may be alarmed quickly by a looming object, or they may realize gradually that they are losing a chess match.

Three modern approaches

In the evaluative tradition, emotions are primary in the way they understand the world, and emotions are (or involve) distinctive evaluations of the circumstances eliciting them.

They are considered to be similar to other sensory experiences, like tasting chocolate or feeling a pain in one's back.

The idea that emotions are due to thoughts (cognitions or evaluations) is held by some, while others believe that emotions come from cognitions or evaluations.

The presence of recalcitrant emotions, that is, emotions that contradict a person's cognitive assessment of their situation, is problematic for this tradition.

Some theorists add other components to judgments, such as feelings, beliefs, or desires, in order to compensate for this.

The proponents of this tradition believe that motivation stems from the feeling that something is worthy of attention and action.

Yes, and to the extent they are pleasant or painful, they move us closer to or farther away from the stimulus.

In this view, no. Emotions are considered to be attitudes rather than judgments.

This tradition doesn't appear to offer a clear explanation of the relationships between emotions and associated objects.

How do modern theories of emotion view the relationship between emotions and rational thinking?

Changes in prominent academic views on emotions over the years

Recent research has shifted the focus from the role of emotions in moral and social life to the role of emotions in motivating behavior.

Even though they cannot be directly tied to the brain, they are part of the body and being as a whole.