The definition of the word “emotion” itself doesn’t have scientific consensus at the moment. However, according to Michel Cabanac in “Behavioural Processes,” emotion is “any mental experience with high intensity and high hedonic content.”
Aristotle defined emotion as all the feelings that can affect the judgment and actions of men, which also affects pain and pleasure. Although different reactions cause most emotions, other emotions are generally felt universally by humans all around the world.
Using his Basic Emotions Wheel, Paul Ekman identified the six root emotions: three of these are pleasant, while the other three are unpleasant emotions. According to Ekman, what constitutes the pleasant emotion group is happy, excited, and tender. Sad, angry, and scared are emotions on the other side of the wheel.
Emotions vs Mood
Emotion is a slightly different concept compared to “mood.” When you say emotion, it refers to a response to a specific external trigger. These feelings are usually short-term and more of an “at the moment” thing. Besides, emotion is often triggered by a particular object, event, or situation. As such, your current emotion can be reflected externally (e.g., smiling when you’re happy, crying when you’re sad).
Meanwhile, a mood doesn’t have specific natures like an emotion. You can either be in a “good mood” or a “bad mood,” and you’re the only one who feels it. Moods are less intense compared to emotions, but they can last for longer. You can be in a bad mood for hours or days, but you cannot stay constantly angry for more than a few minutes for no apparent reason.
For elaboration, here are two different analogies that explain mood and emotion. One of your co-workers accidentally slipped his or her coffee on your table. Your anger or annoyance at the moment the spillage happened is the emotion that you feel at the given time. However, if your disposition gets ruined because of this coffee spillage incident throughout the morning, then your annoyance and anger is your current mood.
10 main characteristics of each emotion
1. Emotions are followed with a physiological change
When an emotion is felt, there will always be a follow up of physiological changes. The quickening of heartbeat, change of pitch in the voice, facial and body languages are some of the common reactions. Most physiological reactions are visible to other people around you.
2. The interpretation of emotions is subjective
Emotions are subjective and are tied to individual factors such as upbringing, experiences, and intellect. For example, people like riding roller coasters because it is fun and exhilarating. On the other hand, people who are afraid of heights or extreme activities, in general, would feel nervous and sick while aboard a roller coaster.
3. An emotion can trigger another emotion
There is a wide array of emotions under the basic ones presented in the emotion wheel. Triggering an emotion via another emotion is possible, merging both emotions at the same time. You can feel happy and excited, angry and scared, mad but worried, or furious and tense at the same time.
4. Emotions need to be triggered before appearing
Each human emotion is triggered by a specific stimulus, whether it’s good or bad. You can’t become angry, sad, or happy without any obvious reason. A stimulus can be anything: people, event, or an object. More specifically, emotions are triggered by a person’s thoughts about a particular external factor.
5. Emotions are always accompanied by pleasantness or unpleasantness
After an emotion was triggered, it would immediately be followed by a feeling of pleasantness or unpleasantness. It will then be followed by a physiological change based on the emotion invoked. When the external stimulus triggers pleasant emotions, a positive physiological change happens, such as smiling and being more relaxed. Vice versa, for unpleasant stimuli and negative emotions.
6. Emotions can trigger a person’s mood
Emotions can affect the mood of a person for a certain amount of time. A happy emotion can trigger a good mood that can last for hours or more. This is the same with bad emotions like anger, sadness, and fear.
7. People of all ages feel emotions
Whether you’re ten or 100 years old, emotions can affect you in the same way all it affects other people. Children tend to have stronger emotions that are easily expressed and can last longer than adults. Nevertheless, emotions affect everyone with no exception.
8. There are two primary sources of emotion: perception or ideas
Although stimuli in the environment usually trigger emotions, perception is not the only source of emotion. The stimuli can be from your ideas and memories as well (e.g., remembering an embarrassing moment of past and feeling embarrassed because of it once again).
9. Emotions and motivations come hand in hand
Motivation is defined as the drive that makes people act. There are times when an emotion serves as a motivation to drive a person to reach goals. For example, after a particularly embarrassing grade, a student would have the drive to study harder for the next exam.
10. Emotions are not the same as “feelings.”
Feelings arise as a reaction to your emotions. Unlike emotions, which is a physiological thing, a feeling is a mental experience. For example, if you see a snake in your bed, and it got away, your physical reaction (emotion) would be to get scared and run out of the room because of the unexpected experience. Later on, you will feel worried and anxious because you know that the snake is still in your room.
What are the characteristics and functions of emotions?
What are three characteristics of the range of emotions?
What are the 4 components of emotions?
What are the 5 characteristics of emotional intelligence?
- Social skills.