User:Ambrily73/My sandbox/Mind Body Integration Intro Course

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“What are emotions?” is a question that is easier to ask than to answer. There are many different theories as to what emotions are, where they come from, and why they exist. The answer you get varies depending on who you ask. According to Randolph R. Cornelius, author of The Science of Emotion: Research and Tradition in the Psychology of Emotion, the only common agreement among psychologist is that emotions are multifaceted phenomena! (1995) The consensus is that emotions are:

  • part subjective experience (feelings)
  • part physiological reactions (producing tears, increased heart rate)
  • part cognitions ( your thoughts)
  • part behavior (biting nails, screaming)
  • part expressive reactions (frowns, smiles)
  • and that they have functions that affect how we get along in the world.

Which of these characteristics are held as paramount or downplayed in defining emotion again depends on who you ask.

Read the following three definitions of emotion and see if you can recognize any core similarities or differences among them.

  1. Wikipedia defines an emotion as “a mental and physiological state associated with a wide variety of feelings, thoughts and behaviors. [Emotion] is a prime determinant of the sense of subjective well-being and appears to play a central role in many human activities”
  2. In her massage textbook Sandy Fritz states that “Emotions are feelings driven by thoughts. They lead to actions that represent the consequences of how we think and what we do. What we think and feel and how we live are inextricably linked.” (2004)
  3. A recent article found in the Hindustan Times reports that “The mind/body emotions are conscious mental states that arise instinctively in reaction to situations (or memories of situations) in the environment, and usually manifest themselves in behavioral and physiological changes.” (2007)

Are Emotions “a mental and physiological state” or are they “feelings driven by thoughts” or are they “conscious mental states”? What do you think?

In his book, Randolph R. Cornelius compares how emotions are defined, studied and explained according to four theoretical traditions of research on emotion in psychology. The four theoretical perspectives he covers are the Darwinian, the Jamesian, the cognitive and the social constructivist. There is also much research on the Neurophysiology of Emotion, which we will discuss later.