Emotions and Feelings

For Me Ness

Some Topics

  • Emotions are Social Behaviors

    Behavior in human groups is regulated by displays of status, intentions, body states, needs and distress. Emotions are obvious displays that add dynamics to human interactions. The face is the bulletin board of emotions, complemented by sounds, head movements, arm and hand gestures. The goal of polite society is to maintain a neutral state with little or no display of emotions.

    Anger is the dominant emotion and displays of anger disrupt social gatherings. Polite humans learn proper conduct that minimizes conflict. Elaborate polite greeting and parting behaviors are required. The interaction of humans in public spaces is controlled by a variety of rules, devices and enforcement that minimize the opportunity for anger to emerge. When one person becomes angry in gatherings, others act to minimize the tendency for anger to lead to fighting.

    The primary dynamic of dominance and submission is always at work when humans interact. Emotions are the outer language of dominance and submission. Feelings represent the evaluation of dominant and submissive behaviors as monitor images in consciousness.

    Crying and laughing are not usually listed as emotions, but should be; indeed, these highly communicative behaviors are prototypes of emotion. Smiling and grimacing are also emotional behaviors. Both are transitional to emotions that are more energetic. Smiling is often a signal that all is well and may progress to laugher.

    Grimacing is a signal that not all is well and may lead to crying or anger. Children who are unsure about what is happening may go though the whole repertoire of emotions in rapid succession. A grimace; then a hesitant laugh; and then a flood of tears may follow a tentative smile if the right reassurance is not forthcoming.

    Human relationships thrive on shared pleasurable experiences. Eating together is bonding. Food pleasures are the easiest, most available form of self-gratification. Eating and drinking together indicates social acceptance and tends to cement social relationships. Intimate relationships often begin with dinner invitations. Lovers feed each other the way doting mothers feed babies. You could argue that hunger, thirst and eating are deeply embedded in the production of feeling and emotional behaviors.

    Hunger and thirst are the oldest and deepest motivations to venture into the world to find good things to eat and drink. Drinking water and other beverages is a special kind of eating. Hunger is an inside feeling; appetite is the drive, hunting for food is the seeking behavior, eating is the consummatory behavior and satiety is the feeling of gratification that follows. Eating food involves pleasurable sensations, mostly in the mouth and internal chemical signals that regulate brain states. The right signals from food produce gratification and a temporary suspension of needs.

    Sounds, Music, Emotions

    Sounds are used ubiquitously in the animal world to communicate. Animals listen for sounds that inform them about events happening at a distance. They make sounds to send messages to each other. If you sit anywhere in nature and listen, you begin to hear a symphony. Some sounds mark and defend territory, other sounds are mating signals, other sounds are emotional expressions, yet other sounds are warnings. Birds sing to declare ownership of territory, to attract mates, and to send messages to family members. Wolves howl on clear moonlit nights to speak to each other and to express a deep feeling and sensitive humans who hear them sing also share that deep feeling.

    Sounds link animals in social groups. The continuous uttering of repetitive sounds is a common method of parent and infant communication. Infant Canada Geese, for example, emit a peeping every second or so and their parents emit a low pitch short” honk” every four or five seconds. This auditory link is more important than a visual link in keeping the family unit together. When the geese flock flies together, there is continuous honking that links the group. Since they cannot maintain visual contact in a V- flight formation, sound communication allows the group to stay together.

    Animal communication involves sounds that declare specific meanings such as the alarm cries of squirrels and monkeys, bird songs that regulate mating and social activity and human grunts, shouts and cries that attract attention, signal danger and express emotion. Rhesus monkeys, for example, make 15 sounds that are associated with facial expressions. Monkeys in danger make short, sharp threatening calls with eyes wide, ears flat, mouth wide open. Relaxed monkeys 'coo', with lips pouting and open. Monkeys identified threat calls with facial expressions, just as human infants match voice to face, starting at two months old.[i]All animal share fundamental strategies of sound communication. The general plan of communication using sounds and written symbols involves a supramodal, movement-modeling capacity that can create and retain schemas of action in the world and that some of these schemas are expressions that we refer to as emotions, some as language and some as music. The production of words involves specific adaptations of the human vocal tract that compromise other functions such as breathing and swallowing. The brain is adapted to coordinate airflow with all the sound-shaping movements that articulate sounds. Sound shaping movements are coordinated with other communicative movements of the eyes, face, head, arms and trunk. Speaking is a whole-body, kinetic activity. In most languages, pitch and volume variations form part of the semantic meaning. In all languages, pitch and volume variations carry emotional meaning, linked to the semantic content.

    Humans have a strong tendency to bond to sounds early in life and prefer to hear or sing simple songs they learned earlier. Popular songs can be repeated throughout their life with the same strong feelings of identity and comfort. Simple melodies have the greatest appeal and widest audience because they are easy to remember and resemble the simple phrases of ancient animal communication. Songs, of course, combine words and music and are potent in eliciting emotional responses. The combination of words and sounds reveals the relationship between music and spoken language. Without music, religious meetings would be boring and movies would be disappointing. A singer communicates emotionally with the audience, using gesture to emphasize the emotional values of a song.

    Chanting is soothing to humans and group chanting can induce euphoria that some humans call a “religious” or “mystical” or “spiritual” feeling. The benefits of chanting are independent of the meaning of the words, although meaning can enhance the experience of chanting. Words used in chants are simple and often have a musical quality of their own. Repeating the same phrase rhythmically has a trance-inducing power. If you combine chanting with dancing or just holding you arms in the air, swaying back and forth, you become euphoric and feel bonded with others in your group. Music-induced trances work at Woodstock, folk concerts, rock concerts, support groups, churches, all night voodoo dances and on camping trips, sitting around a campfire.

    [i] Ghazanfar, A. A. & Logothetis, N. K. Facial expressions linked to monkey calls. Nature, 423, 937 - 938, (2003).

    Emotions and Feelings

  • This book investigates the for-me-ness of experiences, using psychology, neuroscience and philosophy. Everyone has some idea what emotions and feelings are but their exact nature is elusive. We can begin by noting that emotions and feelings are not the same. Generally, humans are ignorant of internal processes and invent all manner of imaginary and irrelevant explanations to explain feelings. The term “emotion” is best used to point to animal and human behavior. There are a small number of primary emotions and variations that involve mixtures of emotional displays feelings and behaviors. Joy, anger, fear and pain are pure emotions. Other, more complex and derivative experiences act as interfaces to emotions. Love, jealousy and hate are not emotions. These are descriptions of complex interactions and evaluations that involve a range of feelings and interface to true emotions some of the time. Euphoria is the benefit of being in love. Sadness and anger are the cost of being in love. Jealousy, like love, is another complex of cognitions, feelings and emotions that exist to monitor and regulate close relationships. The absence of emotional display is highly valued in polite society. Humans have advanced toward civil and productive social environments that are emotionally neutral. Emotional neutrality is a requirement for acceptable behavior in school and work environments.

    Emotions and Feelings is intended for a well-educated smart reader who is interested in Human Nature and the daily experience of humans in groups. The author is Stephen Gislason Both Print editions and eBooks for download are available from Alpha Online

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    Print Books Read Topics Download
    Human Nature
    The Good Person
    Pieces of the Puzzle
    The Sound of Music
    Surviving Human Nature
    Language and Thinking
    I and Thou
    Emotions, Feelings
    Neuroscience Notes
    Human Brain
    Children & Family
    Intelligence & Learning
    Religion 21st Century

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    The Psychology, Philosophy, Neuroscience series of books was developed by Persona Digital. The books are copyright and all rights to reproduction by any means are reserved. We encourage readers to quote and paraphrase topics from Emotions and Feelings 2017, published online, and expect proper citations to accompany all derivative writings. The author is Stephen Gislason and the publisher is Persona Digital Books, Sechelt, B.C. Canada.