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Nature of Emotions

Emotional behavior is one area of psychological knowledge that has provoked much attention, investigation, discussion, research, and theorizing. It has attained prominence not only because of its human interest value but because of its relevance to the intricacies of behavior and thought. Think what life would be like if there were no emotions to liven it up. The affective tones of love, trust, admiration, sympathy, and contentment enrich as they are refurbished while the disruptive ones like fear, anger, and disgust are corroding as they destroy (Halonen & Santrock, 1996; Morris & Maisto, 2003).

Psychologists believe that man rarely reacts in a completely rational way and that most of our actions and decisions are influenced extensively by affective experiences. One of the most potent ways of understanding human nature is through an understanding of the nature of emotions (Morris & Maisto, 2003). Emotion is derived from the Latin verb “emovere” meaning to “stir up” or “to move. ” It connotes a stirred up bodily state (Morris & Maisto, 2003). Emotions are affective states involving a high level of activation, visceral changes and strong feelings.

Most definitions involve the following concepts: 1) an experience characterized by a strong degree of feeling and characterized by marked motor expression; 2) a peculiar conscious state during which pleasantness or unpleasantness is predominant; 3) the sum total of experience during a period in which marked bodily feelings take place; 4) s dynamic expression of an instinct which may emanate from conscious and unconscious sources (Morris & Maisto, 2003).

In the typical “fight” or “flight” behavior, biological response patterns represent particular kinds of behavior. Under situations demanding intense emotional responses, there is rapid mobilization of the bodily (biological) resources. Well-known bodily changes related to specific activities of the anterior pituitary gland and the adrenal cortex occur. When the bodily action potentials are depressed, they provide a criterion for depressed emotional reaction.

Some of these reactions are temporary emotional states which are but normal adaptive procedures however (Halonen & Santrock, 1996; Morris & Maisto, 2003). Emotions are too numerous and are of so complex a nature that they defy one simple categorizing. One circumstance provoking an individual to be angry may cause him to be afraid and to take flight (Morris & Maisto, 2003). Emotions play a big and critical role in the motivation of an individual, specifically, in the learning process or in an individual’s many or varied activities.

It motivates a person in his learning process, such as when stimuli produce pleasant or unpleasant feelings, or mild or strong emotions result in great differences in the rate and extent of learning. Emotions determine the direction that behavior will take. Normal emotional reactions are part of the development of proper behavior patterns; what is socially acceptable, people are usually trained to like (Halonen & Santrock, 1996; Morris & Maisto, 2003).

Emotional effects vary according to the circumstances from slightly increasing tensions to complete disruption and breakdown or the individual or total inability to respond. They also vary according to the degree of emotional expression and the availability of ways and means to release tension (Halonen & Santrock, 1996; Morris & Maisto, 2003). Reference: Halonen, J. and J. Santrock (1996), Psychology: Context of Behavior. Brown & Benchmark. Morris, C. and A. Maisto (2003), Understanding Psychology. 6th edition: PRENTICE HALL

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