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Three components of emotion and the universal emotions

Video transcript
So let's talk about a topic important to song writers everywhere, emotions. Emotions are felt by everyone. But how they expressed and experienced is very different, depending on the individual, which makes them complicated to understand. But simply put, in psychology, we understand emotions to be subjective experiences that are accompanied by physiological, behavioral, and cognitive changes and reactions. So let me explain each of these in a bit more detail. First, let's look at the physiological components of an emotional experience. Every emotion produces different physiological responses within the body, which can include distinct changes in patterns of brain activation, neurotransmitter production, and autonomic nervous system activity. For example, let's use you as an example here. Let's say you're standing here, minding your business in a room. And then all of sudden, surprise, everyone jumps out and surprises you because it happens to be your birthday. So you, the individual here, might have a distinct physiological reaction. Your heart rate may increase as a result of being startled. Your muscles may be temporarily tense and then relaxed. And your skin temperature may increase as well. Now, at the same time there are cognitive processes going on as well that are very different person to person and culture to culture. So cognitive reactions are mental assessments that can include appraisals of what is happening, expectations about the situation, and general thoughts about the experience. So in this example with a surprise party, someone who has been to a surprise party before may have the expectation that it will be fun, or they might be thinking about the people who are there, or maybe they're just saying, oh, my God, because they're so surprised. This is an example of a cognitive experience happening as a result of emotions. These cognitive experiences can also bring about emotions. So for instance if you happen to think about how much dislike parties-- now, I don't know why that would be. But if you really don't like parties for some reason, you might feel like dread at the prospect of a surprise party, instead of joy. And that emotion was brought on by your cognitive experience. And lastly, each emotion produces different behavioral responses, which can be evident in body language or facial expressions. So in our surprise example, an individual may smile, clap their hands in delight, or open their arms to hug their friends and relatives. Again, these expressions vary by individual and can be interpreted differently culture to culture. So let's return to our chart here and review the basics. Emotions are made up of cognitive, behavioral, and physiological changes that are all interrelated. But what else do we know about emotion? Well, first, emotions are temporary. They have relatively clear beginnings and relatively short durations, unlike moods, which can last much longer and are not necessarily discrete. Secondly, emotions can be negative or positive. So as an example, someone can be happy, sad, angry, or delighted. Along the same lines, emotions can vary in intensity. So a person can experience a little bit of sadness or a deep feeling of depression. They can be extremely ecstatic or just a little pleased. And lastly, emotions generally are involuntary, meaning that you can't decide what you will experience, which is why we use these phrases such as someone falls in love, or explodes with rage, or is overwhelmed with excitement. These expressions kind of illustrates how emotions are involuntary. So with all that in mind, here's a question for you. How many emotions are there? Well, the answer is there's probably an infinite number. But a researcher named Paul Ekman found that there are a special set of six emotions that can be easily identify the individuals all around the world. And these are known as the universal emotions. And these universal emotions are happiness, sadness, fear, disgust, anger, and surprise. And you might be wondering why are they called universal emotions? Now, they aren't called universal emotions because everyone feels them the same way. They're called universal emotions because they have consistent facial expressions across cultures. And so there are easily recognizable, no matter what cultural background you come from. So here's an example of the six universal emotions. I'm going to give you a few seconds here to look at it, maybe pause this video, and see if you can guess what each of these six represent. Now, I'm going to go through each of these expressions here and show how they relate to the emotion that they represent. Now, I get kind of a kick out of this because I'm going to explain emotions that we all experience every day. And I'm going to explain them in a very clinical, cold sounding manner. But I think it's kind of interesting to kind of break it down like this. So here's happiness. And it's representing happiness because there are raised cheeks. You can see elevated corners in the mouth. Sometimes teeth are exposed, sometimes wrinkles on the outward corners of the eyes. So that's happiness. And here we have sadness. Sadness is represented by an uplifted, inner corner of the eyebrows and downturned lips. And here's fear. Fear is represented by eyebrows being raised and drawn together, wrinkles in the middle of forehead. Eyes are open and intense. The mouth is open. Lips are drawn back tightly. So that's fear. And now we have anger. Anger is represented by like this penetrating stare that they have here. Your eyelids are tense. Your lips are pressed together. So that's anger. And here's disgust. Disgust is represented by raised cheeks, a wrinkled nose. Your brows are lowered. And with surprise, just like we saw in that little cartoon we drew earlier, surprise has raised eyebrows. Eyes are open wide. The jaw is dropped, so they have an open mouth. So that's surprise. Now, here's another question to consider. Why would these emotions be universally recognizable? So the answer comes to us from Charles Darwin. You probably know of Darwin and his studies in evolution. Well, Darwin hypothesized that the ability to express and understand emotion is an innate ability. And it helped individuals to act in ways that gave them a better chance of survival. So emotions actually have an adaptive value. And this makes a lot of sense. Think about a newborn baby. If they're surprised or frightened, they often react in ways that are very similar to how grown-ups act. But newborn babies are brand new to the world. They've never been taught how to do these things. Their bodies just react that way. And what's really interesting is that individuals who have been blind their entire lives and have never been able to see what a human face looks like, they also have similar facial expressions to people who can see, even though they've never seen a smile or a frown. And this also supports the idea that the expression of some emotions are innate. So when it comes to emotions think of the three components, the cognitive, the physiological, and the behavioral. And remember that universal emotions exist.