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 explores the concept of core emotions - what are they?
  • The emotion sorting exercise involves sorting hundreds of emotion words into a model which depicts underlying families of emotional experience.

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]

If an affective or psychological state is not an emotion, then what else could it be?

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)

Core emotions[edit | edit source]

What are the core emotions? Theoretical models typically identify about eight core emotions including:

  1. Fear
  2. Anger
  3. Disgust
  4. Sadness
  5. Interest
  6. Joy
  7. Surprise
  8. Contempt

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 many (250+) emotion-related words into core emotion families:

  1. Open this list of emotion words
  2. Each person selects an emotion word and classifies it as a:
    1. member of a core emotion family or
    2. non-emotion word
  3. Change a classification if you disagree
  4. Repeat this process until all words are classified - a progress bar will be displayed
  5. Use chat or the comments column to discuss (e.g., unusual/unknown words or emotions you'd like to share about or want to know more about)
  6. As a whole class, discuss the results

Emotion knowledge[edit | edit source]

What is "emotion knowledge"?

The 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 of 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.

However, 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 (linguistic relativity).

Recording[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

Additional tutorial material
Lectures and tutorials

External links[edit | edit source]