Friday, December 26, 2014

End-year special: How emotions can function as message bearers (1)

Emotions are our responses to internal or external events. A woman having a headache demonstrates it by either touching her hands to her head or saying it out that she has a headache. When we see a crime being committed on the street, our faces register signs of dismay and shock. On my face, your face, by body movements, by choice of words, by a silent whisper, a nod of the head, a smile of approval, a loving kiss, a hateful glance, emotions are expressed in countless ways that the senses can perceive and receive a message.

Some emotions are spontaneous. In my middle high school classes, it amazes me how the children sometimes begin drumming on the desks or exclaiming in alarm in reaction to some information in the lecture or to an answer to a question. Some are also premeditated.

Whatever the case may be, emotions are message bearers in that they convey to the observer the feelings, goals, needs, desires and social intentions of the creator of the emotion. Whether love at first sight exists or not, the reaction expressed by an observer to sex or other visual stimuli, was as a result of a emotion produced.

If happiness is appraised as a favorable and benign emotion that we all are attracted to, then what is anger? An expressive emotion that translates into a frustrated goal and taking the blame out on others.

Emotions surely convey messages and not just few, but lots of messages. Emotions then are worth studying and understanding if we want to build healthy social relationships.

The next blog article, Series 2: Why emotions can drive a second emotional response, describes the influential role of emotions in social life.

The rest of the series:

  1. How to use emotions to Human Advantage (Introduction).
  2. Series 1: How emotions can function as message bearers.
  3. Series 2: Why emotions can drive a second emotional response.
  4. Series 3: How emotions play a part in decision making.
  5. Series 4: Information processing of emotional signals.
  6. Series 5: The social context in responding and interpreting emotions.
  7. Series 6: Implications of using emotions as social information tokens.

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