Emotion Definition Emotion is a state of physiological arousal. It has important motivational properties, it drives the individual to behave in a certain way.


There are 3 elements to an emotion 1) an emotional experience, 2) an emotional expression and 3) physiological arousal





Emotional Experience

Primary emotions are universally(everyone around the world)) experienced e.g. fear, anger, sadness, joy and disgust


Secondary emotions are learned mixtures of primary ones e.g. contempt is a blend of anger and disgust



The same emotion can be innate(you are born with it) or it can be learned(you have learned it from your personal environment). For example Anger in response to a threat is innate. However anger in response to someone smoking nearby may be learned.




Emotional Expression

Each emotion can have a great range of expressions. This range varies between individuals.


      Nature- Some emotional expressions are innate and universal. For example the crying of an infant or expressions of pain which might be important for survival. For these expressions to be effective our understanding of these expressions must also be innate

      Nurture- Children learn display rules the social norms which are learned about what behaviours are acceptable in particular situations and cultures


      Non-Verbal Communication- Most emotions are shown non-verbally, using facial expressions and body language-we often show our emotions without conscious awareness, this is known as Non-Verbal Leakage

      Other behavioural effects- Emotional arousal May lead to improved or decreased performance (especially anxiety)


Physiological Arousal

      Hormones- Adrenalin(epinephrine) is a hormone largely produced by the kidneys. Its effect is to activate internal organs for vigorous activity(arousal)-


Physiological effects include increased heart rate and breathing, sugar release from liver, dry mouth, dilated pupils and activation of sweat to cool body temperature down

Behavioural effects include increased attention and improved performance on cognitive tasks (note- if arousal too great the opposite occurs)


      The Autonomic Nervous System(ANS) controls the system of arousal and relaxation. The ANS is controlled by the Hypothalamus in the brain. The ANS stimulates production of and releases various hormones into the blood. It is divided into 2 branches the sympathetic(responsible for arousal and fight or flight) and parasympathetic(responsible for relaxation)



      The Fight or Flight Response-This response is important for survival So when fight and when flight ?- This all depends on the situation- profit/loss for the individual




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