Motivation and emotion/Tutorials/Core emotions

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Tutorial 07: Core emotions

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This is the seventh tutorial for the Motivation and emotion unit of study.

Overview[edit | edit source]

  • This tutorial engages in the concept of core emotions - what are they?
  • The core emotion sort exercise involves sorting hundreds of emotion words into underlying categories

Core emotion sort[edit | edit source]

Emotion sort exercise under way...
Words which refer to aspects of "sad" emotions.

The goal of this exercise is to organise emotion-related words into a model which depicts underlying families of emotional experience.

Core emotion criteria[edit | edit source]

What are the criteria for a core emotion?

To qualify as a core emotion, consider whether an affective state is/has a:

  1. Distinct physiological/neurology response? (e.g., neurological activation, hear-rate)
  2. Distinct feeling? (subjective/phenomenological state)
  3. Unique expression? (e.g., unique facial expression and body language)
  4. Innate? (i.e., evident from birth)
  5. Adaptive purpose/function?
  6. Short-lived (vs. moods which are longer-lived)
  7. Triggered by same circumstances each time? (i.e., has a specific causal trigger)?
  8. Universal (i.e., recognised by different cultures)

Non-emotions[edit | edit source]

There are several affective psychological experiences which do not qualify as emotions and may instead be better considered as:

  1. Attitudes (e.g., hate)
  2. Behaviours (e.g., aggression)
  3. Cognitions (e.g., confused)
  4. Disorders (e.g., behavioural conduct disorder)
  5. Moods (e.g., grumpy)
  6. Personality traits (e.g., neuroticism)

Steps[edit | edit source]

  1. Go to the online list of emotion words
  2. As a whole group, work through each emotion word, classifying as either a:
    1. member of a core emotion family, or a
    2. non-emotion word
  3. After the initial classification, sort and review the words by emotion family
  4. Discuss the results

Emotion knowledge[edit | edit source]

What is "emotion knowledge"?

The core emotion sort exercise is also designed to expand "emotion knowledge", which is the number of different emotions a person can distinguish (e.g., various shades of anger).

Emotion knowledge is part of emotional literacy and emotional intelligence.

Emotion knowledge can be improved by expanding one's linguistic repertoire for describing emotions. Reeve (2009, p. 353) suggests that "the finer and more sophisticated one's emotion knowledge is, the greater his or her capacity to respond to each life event with a specialised and highly appropriate reaction".

For example, new research finds our vocabularies can act as a window into psychological and physical well-being. For a deeper dive, see the work on James Pennebaker, one of the study's authors, via Google Scholar.

Foreign language emotion words[edit | edit source]

There are many emotion-like states that are not well described in English.

On the other hand, there are many non-English words for emotional states that might be useful.

What words from other languages do you know that describe emotions?

For example:

What are the implications of emotion language for our psychological experience? For example, consider the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.

Recording[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]