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Emotions

        

In this chapter we explore the topic of emotions. First, make a list of all of the feelings you can think of. How many did you list? Most of us are only able to think a few. Yet we know that there are many emotions, or at least many levels of emotions.

Psychologists have identified 8 basic emotions which are universal but there are still shades of each of those eight. The eight are: fear, anger, joy, disgust, acceptance, sadness, surprise, and anticipation.

What is an emotion? There is debate about that among psychologists. An emotion involves physiological arousal, expressive behavior and conscious experience (the ABC's of emotion). But what comes first? That is the crux of the differences between the theories of emotion.

One set of theories says that we experience the physiological arousal first and then the other 2 components follow. Other claims that it all happens simultaneously. As you can imagine, it is exceedingly difficult to study these hypotheses.

Culture is an important consideration when discussing emotions. While there are some universals in identification of emotions, there are many cultural differences in the expression of emotion. For instance, in the West we tend to be stoic at funerals while in the East there is much verbal expression of grief.

Why do some people readily express emotions while others have difficulty with public displays? This is only one of the questions surrounding the study of emotion.