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What is “emotion”?

In the past 150 years, many scholars and researchers have different interpretations of "emotions", some from a biological perspective or an evolutionary perspective. It’s just that the names of different emotions are not consistent, and naturalist Darwin1 believes that human beings have six basic emotions, including happiness, surprise, fear, disgust, anger and sadness.

In the 1990s, research on the brain2 suggested that the brain remembers emotional responses to experiences, including fear, expectation, panic, and anger.

We are accustomed to classifying emotions into positive emotions, such as happiness, ease and expectancy; on the contrary, negative emotions such as low mood, fear and anger. We also think that negative emotions are bad, and we should avoid or deny their existence. In fact, "emotions" are not good or bad, and each emotion has its own meaning. For example, happiness means that you feel satisfied and hopeful; panic means that you are in danger, you need to distinguish and protect yourself; anger means that you have been hurt, need to discern and reconcile.

And later Goldman3 popularized the emotional quotient (emotional intelligence), a healthy emotional quotient means the ability to manage emotions effectively. To improve the emotional quotient, we need to be able to detect emotions; define and understand its meaning; and integrate it with other cognitive experiences.

Knowing more about "emotions", are you still afraid to face your emotions?


1. Darwin Charles, Ekman Paul, Prodger Phillip (1998) The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, 3rd edn, London: Harper Collins.

2. Gary, J.A. (1990). Brain systems that mediate both emotion and cognition. Cognition and Emotion, 4, 270-288.

Goleman, D (1995). Emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam Books

3. Goleman, D (1995). Emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam Books

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