Emotions and Science

How Do Emotions Start?

The ability to feel emotions is present from an infant age, before any kind of learning takes place. It does not require a scientist to say that humans are born with emotions. Feelings do form an integral part of life. However there has been a philosophical debate on the exact necessity and nature of emotions.

Many gurus and spiritual leaders affirm the desirable impact that positive emotions have on our system. However, the importance of negative emotions is often undermined. For example  fear is associated with a fight or flight reaction which is a part of survival instinct. Similarly, sadness, associated with failure, is necessary for learning.

The Experiment With Facial Expressions  

Paul Ekman is popular in the scientific community for his innovative social experiment on emotions. He collected six expressive emotional faces and showed it to people belonging to different countries. These six expressions included happiness, sadness, fear, disgust, anger and surprise. It was seen that all people recognized the facial expressions irrespective of nationality. It was concluded  recognizing emotions from facial expressions is quite universal. Thus these six facial expressions are said to represent the universal emotions, as these can be recognized  uniformly over different regions.  

The Experiments on Brain

Brain scientists are also curious of the working of emotions. Their approach to study emotions mostly relies on the extensive use of brain scanning tools.  In order to get a deeper understanding of emotions, scientists artificially simulate emotions. They ask people to encounter or remember emotional events.  Brain scans are studied during emotion arousal to understand brain workings.

Industrial Implications of Emotional Content

As social media gains popularity, public circulation of personal information including emotions is on the rise. Multiple organizations are also trying to harness this information using artificial intelligence. Thus social texts like tweets and browsing habits are constantly under scrutiny, for possible identification of behavioral clues. For example if analysis of a person’s browsing history reveals that he is interested in cellphones, then he is likely to be shown cellphone advertisements.  

Last But Not the Least

Earlier people regarded emotions as a non-necessary and perhaps problematic part of existence. More emphasis was given to analytical reasoning to ascertain the intelligence of a person. More recently buzz-words like emotional intelligence are gaining popularity. This is because proper management of emotions is a feat which is quite necessary in the present world scenario.Though emotions are well known to all, one may still question that after decades of research, does science still understand emotions?


Reshma Kar

She is an artificial intelligence researcher and loves reading and writing about the latest technologies.

Latest posts by Reshma Kar (see all)

Reshma Kar

She is an artificial intelligence researcher and loves reading and writing about the latest technologies.

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