The Facets of Emotions

Lately I have been musing on what is an emotion. My realization is that emotions serve the purpose of modifying interactions with the environment. Emotions, as such, are comprised of a few facets.

The primary facet is arousal. It is these changes in arousal that led to the evolution of emotions. High states of arousal such fear or anxiety prime the individual to respond to the environment in a beneficial manner.

Additionally, there is the valence of an emotion. When an emotion is positive it is encouraging the type of interaction with the environment that the individual is already engaged in. For example, to experience happiness is to know that the environment is beneficial to the individual and encourages a similar type of engagement. For negative emotions, the opposite is true. When experience fear, an individual must change his or her interaction with the environment in order to respond to the object that is creating fear.

Finally, there is the cognitive component of the emotion. This is comprised of the situational features that allow for the individual to recognize the emotional state that he or she is experiencing. This includes conscious realizations such as triggers of an emotion (e.g. a gun) and automatic responses (e.g. facial feedback).

Does boredom represent a state of low or high arousal? We already know that it is a negative emotion. We also already know that one of the key situational features of boredom is the inability to maintain cognitive focus, so a lapse in attention.

Tenets to Guide My Research

-Evolutionary theory teaches us that organisms have evolved through natural selection.

-This selection occurs at multiple levels, as ascribed by multilevel selection theory.

-The forces that drive evolution occur outside of the individual, which is the environment.

-This is true for traits and behaviors that can be described as genic or memic in origin.

-The environment is comprised of both the natural world and the social world of ideas. The later is synonymous with culture.

-Behaviors and environments interact. As such, behaviors should be analyzed as both originating from and acting on the environment.

-Behaviors serve the purpose of allowing an individual to engage with the environment.

-Before engaging with the environment, all possible behaviors are activated and then a single behavior is selected.

-Factors effect which behavior is selected. This is basically the argument made by Mischel, a cognitivist’s approach to the situationist perspective.

-Learning, the internalization of knowledge and the creation of representations, is central to this approach.

-Learning comes in two forms. The first is experience. The second is through social means such as communication and education.

-Evolved psychological mechanisms can also influence the selection of behaviors.

-One such example of this emotions, which serve to influence how an individual engages in an environment.

-Emotions are activated by situational features, and as such are products of the environment in which the individual is acting. Again, importance is placed on the interaction with the environment.

-Perception is merely a type of behavior.