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The word “emotion” dates back to 1579, when it was adapted from the French word émouvoir, which means “to stir up”. The term emotion was introduced into academic discussion as a catch-all term to passions, sentimentsand affections. According to one dictionary, the earliest precursors of the word likely dates back to the very origins of language. The modern word emotion is heterogeneous In some uses of the word, emotions are intense feelings that are directed at someone or something. On the other hand, emotion can be used to refer to states that are mild (as in annoyed or content) and to states that are not directed at anything (as in anxiety and depression). One line of research thus looks at the meaning of the word emotion in everyday languageand this usage is rather different from that in academic discourse. Another line of research asks about languages other than English, and one interesting finding is that many languages have a similar but not identical term
Emotions have been described by some theorists as discrete and consistent responses to internal or external events which have a particular significance for the organism. Emotions are brief in duration and consist of a coordinated set of responses, which may include verbal, physiological, behavioral, and neural mechanisms. Psychotherapist Michael C. Graham describes all emotions as existing on a continuum of intensity. Thus fear might range from mild concern to terror or shame might range from simple embarrassment to toxic shame. Emotions have also been described as biologically given and a result of evolution because they provided good solutions to ancient and recurring problems that faced our ancestors. Moods are feelings that tend to be less intense than emotions and that often lack a contextual stimulus.
Emotion can be differentiated from a number of similar constructs within the field of affective neuroscience: Feelings are best understood as a subjective representation of emotions, private to the individual experiencing them. Moods are diffuse affective states that generally last for much longer durations than emotions and are also usually less intense than emotions. Affect is an encompassing term, used to describe the topics of emotion, feelings, and moods together, even though it is commonly used interchangeably with emotion. In addition, relationships exist between emotions, such as having positive or negative influences, with direct opposites existing.
These concepts are described in contrasting and categorization of emotions. Graham differentiates emotions as functional or dysfunctional and argues all functional emotions have benefits. In Scherer’s components processing model of emotion, five crucial elements of emotion are said to exist. From the component processing perspective, emotion experience is said to require that all of these processes become coordinated and synchronized for a short period of time, driven by appraisal processes. Although the inclusion of cognitive appraisal as one of the elements is slightly controversial, since some theorists make the assumption that emotion and cognition are separate but interacting systems, the component processing model provides a sequence of events that effectively describes the coordination involved during an emotional episode.
Cognitive appraisal: provides an evaluation of events and objects.
Bodily symptoms: the physiological component of emotional experience.Action tendencies: a motivational component for the preparation and direction of motor responses.
Expression: facial and vocal expression almost always accompanies an emotional state to communicate reaction and intention of actions.
Feelings: the subjective experience of emotional state once it has occurred.
A distinction can be made between emotional episodes and emotional dispositions. Emotional dispositions are also comparable to character traits, where someone may be said to be generally disposed to experience certain emotions. For example, an irritable person is generally disposed to feel irritation more easily or quickly than others do. Finally, some theorists place emotions within a more general category of “affective states” where affective states can also include emotion-related phenomena such as pleasure and pain, motivational states (for example, hunger or curiosity), moods, dispositions and traits.
The classification of emotions has mainly been researched from two fundamental viewpoints. The first viewpoint is that emotions are discrete and fundamentally different constructs while the second viewpoint asserts that emotions can be characterized on a dimensional basis in groupings.
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