Three components of emotion and the universal emotions | MCAT | Khan Academy
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Three components of emotion and the universal emotions | MCAT | Khan Academy

So let’s talk about a topic
important to song writers everywhere, emotions. Emotions are felt by everyone. But how they expressed
and experienced is very different, depending
on the individual, which makes them complicated
to understand. But simply put,
in psychology, we understand emotions to be
subjective experiences that are accompanied by
physiological, behavioral, and cognitive changes
and reactions. So let me explain each of
these in a bit more detail. First, let’s look at the
physiological components of an emotional experience. Every emotion produces different
physiological responses within the body, which can
include distinct changes in patterns of brain activation,
neurotransmitter production, and autonomic nervous
system activity. For example, let’s use
you as an example here. Let’s say you’re
standing here, minding your business in a room. And then all of sudden,
surprise, everyone jumps out and surprises
you because it happens to be your birthday. So you, the
individual here, might have a distinct
physiological reaction. Your heart rate may increase
as a result of being startled. Your muscles may be temporarily
tense and then relaxed. And your skin temperature
may increase as well. Now, at the same time there are
cognitive processes going on as well that are very different
person to person and culture to culture. So cognitive reactions
are mental assessments that can include appraisals
of what is happening, expectations about
the situation, and general thoughts
about the experience. So in this example
with a surprise party, someone who has been to
a surprise party before may have the expectation
that it will be fun, or they might be thinking
about the people who are there, or maybe they’re just
saying, oh, my God, because they’re so surprised. This is an example of a
cognitive experience happening as a result of emotions. These cognitive experiences
can also bring about emotions. So for instance if you happen
to think about how much dislike parties– now, I don’t
know why that would be. But if you really don’t like
parties for some reason, you might feel like dread at the
prospect of a surprise party, instead of joy. And that emotion was brought on
by your cognitive experience. And lastly, each
emotion produces different behavioral
responses, which can be evident in body
language or facial expressions. So in our surprise
example, an individual may smile, clap their
hands in delight, or open their arms to hug
their friends and relatives. Again, these expressions
vary by individual and can be interpreted
differently culture to culture. So let’s return to our chart
here and review the basics. Emotions are made up of
cognitive, behavioral, and physiological changes
that are all interrelated. But what else do we
know about emotion? Well, first, emotions
are temporary. They have relatively clear
beginnings and relatively short durations, unlike moods,
which can last much longer and are not
necessarily discrete. Secondly, emotions can
be negative or positive. So as an example, someone
can be happy, sad, angry, or delighted. Along the same lines, emotions
can vary in intensity. So a person can experience
a little bit of sadness or a deep feeling of depression. They can be extremely ecstatic
or just a little pleased. And lastly, emotions
generally are involuntary, meaning that you can’t decide
what you will experience, which is why we use these
phrases such as someone falls in love, or
explodes with rage, or is overwhelmed
with excitement. These expressions
kind of illustrates how emotions are involuntary. So with all that in mind,
here’s a question for you. How many emotions are there? Well, the answer is there’s
probably an infinite number. But a researcher
named Paul Ekman found that there are a special
set of six emotions that can be easily identify
the individuals all around the world. And these are known as
the universal emotions. And these universal emotions
are happiness, sadness, fear, disgust, anger, and surprise. And you might be
wondering why are they called universal emotions? Now, they aren’t called
universal emotions because everyone feels
them the same way. They’re called
universal emotions because they have consistent
facial expressions across cultures. And so there are
easily recognizable, no matter what cultural
background you come from. So here’s an example of
the six universal emotions. I’m going to give you a few
seconds here to look at it, maybe pause this
video, and see if you can guess what each of
these six represent. Now, I’m going to go through
each of these expressions here and show how they
relate to the emotion that they represent. Now, I get kind of
a kick out of this because I’m going
to explain emotions that we all
experience every day. And I’m going to explain them in
a very clinical, cold sounding manner. But I think it’s kind of
interesting to kind of break it down like this. So here’s happiness. And it’s representing
happiness because there are raised cheeks. You can see elevated
corners in the mouth. Sometimes teeth are
exposed, sometimes wrinkles on the outward
corners of the eyes. So that’s happiness. And here we have sadness. Sadness is represented by
an uplifted, inner corner of the eyebrows and
downturned lips. And here’s fear. Fear is represented by
eyebrows being raised and drawn together, wrinkles in
the middle of forehead. Eyes are open and intense. The mouth is open. Lips are drawn back tightly. So that’s fear. And now we have anger. Anger is represented by
like this penetrating stare that they have here. Your eyelids are tense. Your lips are pressed together. So that’s anger. And here’s disgust. Disgust is represented by
raised cheeks, a wrinkled nose. Your brows are lowered. And with surprise, just like
we saw in that little cartoon we drew earlier, surprise
has raised eyebrows. Eyes are open wide. The jaw is dropped, so
they have an open mouth. So that’s surprise. Now, here’s another
question to consider. Why would these emotions be
universally recognizable? So the answer comes to
us from Charles Darwin. You probably know of Darwin
and his studies in evolution. Well, Darwin hypothesized
that the ability to express and understand emotion
is an innate ability. And it helped individuals to
act in ways that gave them a better chance of survival. So emotions actually
have an adaptive value. And this makes a lot of sense. Think about a newborn baby. If they’re surprised
or frightened, they often react
in ways that are very similar to
how grown-ups act. But newborn babies are
brand new to the world. They’ve never been taught
how to do these things. Their bodies just
react that way. And what’s really interesting
is that individuals who have been blind
their entire lives and have never been able to see
what a human face looks like, they also have similar
facial expressions to people who can see,
even though they’ve never seen a smile or a frown. And this also supports the
idea that the expression of some emotions are innate. So when it comes to emotions
think of the three components, the cognitive,
the physiological, and the behavioral. And remember that
universal emotions exist.


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