The Science of Emotions

Emotions are said to be the world’s universal language. Science shows that a number of causes that determine our emotions include, but most definitely are not limited to our circumstances, our biology, and our expectations.

The issue with trying to understand the science of emotion is that there is a mass gathering of theories and hypotheses that try to explain almost every aspect of understanding emotion. This includes the details of how an emotion should be defined, where to draw the boundaries for what counts as an emotion and what does not, which emotions matter, how emotions are dissimilar from associated concepts like temper, prize, and inspiration, and how numerous occurrences such as facial movements, physical changes, and mindsets should be preserved. In the science of emotion, psychologists and other scientists treat the different theories the same way they treat the phenomena of emotions themselves — they create an understanding of them all.

Most psychologists identify Charles Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals in 1872 as the start of modern emotion research. In Darwin’s book, he states that recognizable behaviors are interpreted by members of the same, and potentially other species, as indicative of mental states, or predictive of the readiness to act. Since his book, there has been an onslaught of research about the science of emotion over the last century, as well as the associated theoretical development based upon this notion. Despite the differences in many of the theories that surround the conception of emotion, the majority of prominent models on the science of emotion incorporate the thought that emotions are an automatic syndrome of behavior and bodily reactions. Like Darwin posited, emotions are therefore the categories which, within firm boundaries, can be observed in nature, such as within the brain or body, and are therefore recognized by another human’s mind. For example, human beings know an instance of anger, therefore they can recognize it in another’s face, voice, or body — or sometimes even feel it themselves.

However, understanding why you feel the way you feel is much less clear. Due to the many years of research conducted by Dr. Pert and many others, the emotional brain can no longer be considered confined to the locations of the amygdala, hippocampus, and hypothalamus. Rather, trained psychologists are working with countless millions of clients to unlock their emotional intelligence, understand why they feel the way they do, learn how to read body language and understand their own, and more. Working with those who understand the full science behind emotion can offer you a full-circle view of feelings ranging from despair to excitement, and this understanding can reveal the secret to how you can harness your own emotions to build a richer life.

Emotion has been obscured by societal constructs such as learning, discipline, disorder, and even disease. Emotion has also been eclipsed by our focus on behavior, intention, motivation, and self-regulation. It is only when we begin to understand the science behind our emotions and reframe our life’s problems in the language of emotion that can we find a way through them. Problems such as attention difficulties, anxiety problems, bullying, and aggression have all been said to be able to be treated through an understanding of the emotion behind them. There is no doubt that the science of emotion will only continue to gain in importance as researchers continue to go beyond understanding the sensory and cognitive endowment of organisms.