As human beings, we have all experienced a range of emotions from happiness,
sadness, love, hate, to indifference along with many other emotions.
Hopefully, the information in this writeup will help explain not only where
these emotions start but what causes them and how the brain deals with them.
There are three basic components of emotions:
The physical component of emotion is a psychological arousal that usually
accompanies the emotion the body is feeling. If the body did not
experience this arousal, the intensity of this emotion would be greatly
decreased. During the arousal, the body experiences a surge of powerful
feelings known as emotions. People who can detect changes in their arousal level experience their emotions much more intensely than those who cannot detect
the changes in their arousal level.
The cognitive component is how we interpret certain situations or stimulations. This determines which emotion our body will feel. For
example; if you are alone, sitting in the dark, watching a scary movie, and you
hear a loud noise, you may become scared... fearing that there is an immediate
threat or that you are in danger. This emotional response to this
imaginary threat is just as powerful as it would be to a real threat. Our
perception to the imaginary threat is what makes it feel real to us and causes
the emotion in our body.
This component has been called the outward expression of our emotions.
Body gestures, posture, facial expressions, and our tone of voice display what
emotions we are feeling. Many of our facial expressions are universal.
For instance, if somebody has a mad look on their face, it doesn't matter what
language they speak or where they are from, chances are... they're mad.
However, some emotional expressions are influenced by our cultures and society's
rules for displaying emotions. For example, the guards outside of
Buckingham Palace are not allowed to display any emotion on their face.
Some people have described them as looking mad when in reality they are not.
It is believed that love is one of the strongest emotions we may experience.
There are different forms of love. Each form of love is experienced as a
deep affection. People often use the term "love" to describe things that
they are fond of such as, "I love my car", or "I love my computer".
However, there is also love that a parent has for a child, love for our friends,
and love of our country, just to name a few.
Romantic love is believed to be one of the most heartfelt and strong emotions
we may experience. This is a very intense emotion we feel for another
person and is usually coupled with sexual arousal and a longing to be with that
person. However, if the passion fades away, many couples find that they do
not have very much in common or differing backgrounds. They may also find
that their attitudes, interests, and values clash with one another. The
good news is... there is more to love than just passion. Even though
passion is very important, it is usually one of the three parts that make up a
Robert Sternberg's theory of love teaches us that there are three components
to love. His triangular theory of love has three components. They
are; passion, commitment and intimacy. Sternberg describes the three
- Intimacy is the feelings in a relationship that promote closeness,
bonding, and connecting with one another.
- Passion is what drives the romance, physical attraction, and sexual consummation in a loving relationship.
- Commitment consists of two parts. The first is a short-term
aspect in which you make the decision that you love another person and the
second part is the long-term aspect in which you decide to commit to a
long-term relationship and maintaining the love for that person over a long period of time.
Expressing our emotions is as natural to humans as breathing. We do not
have to be taught how to smile or express fear or display sadness.
One may ask, how many emotions are there? The answer to that depends on
the person's culture, the language they speak and other factors. One thing
that is certain, in all walks of life; there are basic emotions that are
universal. These emotions are sadness, distress, joy, surprise, disgust,
happiness, anger, and fear. These basic emotions have been found in all
cultures throughout the world.
The Brain's Role in Emotion
The right hemisphere is the most active in recognizing and expressing the
emotions we are feeling. It also responds to emotions being conveyed by
another person's body language or tone of voice. For example, an employer
sarcastically says to an employee who comes to work late, "Glad to see you could
make it today". If the employee had damage to his right hemisphere, he may
only understand the words and not the sarcastic undertones, whereas a person
whose right hemisphere is functioning normally, would usually have a sarcastic
The right hemisphere helps in our expression through our tone of voice and by
controlling our facial expression. Since the right hemisphere controls the
left side of the face, the left side usually portrays stronger emotion than the
right side of the face. Research continues to accumulate information
showing the mechanisms in the brain responsible for negative emotions reside in
the right hemisphere, while the left hemisphere is believed to control positive
emotions. Research has shown that patients who suffer from manic depression or major depression have decreased activity in the left prefrontal
cortex where the positive emotions are produced.
Much of the frontal lobes consist of areas that are involved with motivation,
thinking, positive emotion, impulse control, and other emotional responses.
Any damage that occurs to the frontal areas usually produces deficiencies in the
ability to anticipate the results of our actions.