Emotion Meaning, Definition and Types

What is Emotion?

Emotion are a condition that we us to express our feelings. emotion involves feeling, thinking, activation of the nervous system, physiological changes, and behavioral changes such as facial expressions. Emotion is a complex psychophysiological experience that we experience as a result of our interactions with our environment.

Emotion is a disturbed glandular and muscular activity. Woodworth rightly says that “each emotion is a feeling and each is at the sometimes a motor set” in this way, emotion is a state of the individual in which the body is extend as well as internally very profoundly upset e.g. anger in creature is aroused by any interference in the execution of an impulsive activity, or by the failure of such an activity.

Therefore, anger is directed upon the interfering object or creature, though not always because sometime anger is directed to oneself. When angry grinding of the teeth, elevation of the eye-brows, kicking, attacking, trembling etc. and many other physical activities are apparent. In anger many persons become aggressive. Whereas fear is provoked by a perceived threat. Closely related to fear is anxiety, which is a state of uneasiness or worry.

Usually in anxiety the source of the fear is unspecified and indefinite love is an emotional reaction caused by strong attachment. Grief is an emotional response to loss of loved one. Therefore, may be cited many more examples of emotion like joy, happiness etc.

definition of emotion

  • Emotion is an acute disturbance of the individual as a whole, psychological in origin, involving behavior, conscious experience and visceral functioning.  P. T. Young (1961)
  •  Emotions play a vital part in our motivational patterns. Life with emotion would be virtually a life without motion. Emotion has also organizing and motivational values. When strong emotions arise strong motives are satisfied Ruch (1970):
  •  it is applied to a distinctive category of experience most writers agree that it is a complex state involving heightened perception of an object of situation wide spread bodily changes, an appraisal of left attraction or repulsion, and behavior organized toward approach or withdrawal. H.J Eysenck. (1972):

Paul Ekman identified six basic emotions

  • Happiness
  • Sadness
  • Disgust
  • Fear
  • Surprise
  • Anger
  • Later on Paul Ekman added four more emotions that is Pride, Shame, Embarrassment, and Excitement



Robert Plutchik classify emotion as Wheel of Emotions

Plutchik define eight basic emotions which are Joy, Sadness, Trust, Disgust, Fear, Anger, Surprise, and Anticipation which he believed can be combined or mixed together to create a new emotion

For Example: Love + Trust = Happiness

wheel of emotion


Different types of emotions

  • There are Positive emotions and Negative emotions. Positive emotions includes happiness, joy, interest, curiosity, excitement, gratitude, love, and contentment which feel good. Negative emotions- like sadness, anger, loneliness, jealousy, self-criticism, rejection etc. it can be painful at times.
  • These emotions can be related to an object, an event, social emotions, self-appraisal emotions etc.



Human Emotions include four components :-

  1. Cognitive Processes Perception, thinking, and memory are very Much involved in emotional expressions.
  2. Subjective feelings– All emotions include subjective feelings involving both a general positive or negative emotional state and a specific feeling tone such as for anger, fear or disgust.
  3. Physiological arousal–Emotions are typically changes in physiological associated with mild to extreme processes occurring within our bodies.
  4. Behavioral Response-Emotions often cause us to act out or express our feelings. These expressions may range from crying, screaming or verbal outbursts to smiling and laughing.

Characteristics of Emotions

  1. Universality of emotions.  It varies from person to person. They are present in all the levels of mental life. Some individuals more effective and others are less effective. So, it is true that every living being is emotionally affected.
  2. Capability to Excitement. Emotions are capable or being excited a by a large and different kinds of stimuli e.g. any kind of distraction may cause anger. Fear can be aroused due to loud noises, dark places, strange objects or animals, etc. Emotions can be aroused by perception of ideas, as when some good news of joy comes, they may  be aroused internally by organic changes such as those which result from the use of intoxicants.
  3. Loss of thinking process. Some emotions have a paralyzing effect on voluntary movements. When a person is in an emotional state he never thinks his behavior is right or wrong. Thus, the thinking process at that very moment is lost. e.g. when grief stricken, we’re not able to think and eat, sleep, etc.
  4. Persistency. Sometimes emotions tend to persist for a long time or period and leave behind an emotional disposition or mood which makes the subject more sensitive A certain emotion. A mood is a heightened tendency to feel a particular emotion. see that though the emotion of When anyone fears, we can e.g. fear disappears but this fear in the shape of emotional mood persists for a longer time.
  5. Bodily changes. Emotional behavior is made up of a number of bodily changes which are always present. Thus, emotions physiological changes like blood are normally accompanied by physiological pressure, pulse rate, heart beat and respiration, etc. When the person is in emotional state, the changes in body, facial expressions and gestures also take place.
  6. Emotional differences vary from one individual to another and from one situation to another. Differences in heredity are one of the causes for different emotional behavior. Environmental factors also affect an individual’s emotional behavior. Psychologists discovered that the person who had more diseases in childhood are  more prone to anger and fear responses when tested at the college ‘age.
  7. Need of emotional relation. For arousal of more emotions, it is necessary that  there must be emotional relationship with any individual or thing. e.g.  a mother loves her son and if she gets any sad news from the side of son, she becomes grieved because there’s emotional relationship with mother and the son.
  8. Creative tendency in emotions. A man is creative when he is active rather than passive in emotional condition. e.g. when one is angry, his legs and arms begin to tremble and he is ready to do things or such works which he can’t do in  a normal situation.
  9. Sometimes emotions are displaced. If we are angry and insist on doing something against will of some person, the emotion of anger may soon be transferred on him.
  10. Emotion is diffusive. Emotional stimuli are able to affect the entire body by emotional diffusion. The impact is diffusive as extreme visceral activity affects the reactions of entire body. Diffusion intensifies the emotional response and makes it all the more difficult to control or overcome.
  11. Emotion is comulative. Anger causes more anger, joy tends to produce more joy and so on. A person who is already angry might see provocation is almost anything.

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