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Introduction to Psychology: Motivation and Emotion Essay

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Updated: Jun 5th, 2021

Introduction

Professor Ekman created the basic emotions framework and defined specific criteria to which basic emotions adhere. According to these criteria, basic emotions are not culturally dependent, which means that they appear even in preliterate cultures. Also, basic emotions may be triggered by internal or external stimuli without being consciously chosen. The response to the stimuli is rapid and usually lasts for several seconds or minutes. Unlike complex emotions, basic ones are consistent in their first appearance and always followed by distinctive thoughts, memories, or images.

While it seems quite rational that expressions are universal, many social psychologists claimed that emotions were expressed as a result of cultural influences. In order to demonstrate that emotional expression is universal, Ekman and his team showed photographs of people depicting various emotional states to participants of twenty-two countries (Niedenthal and Ric 240). The test subjects had to identify the emotional state they saw on the photo from the predetermined list of possible emotions. The evidence gained from this experiment allowed Ekman to conclude that expressions are universal.

Main body

The core emotions identified by Ekman in the result of the above-mentioned experiment are anger, fear, disgust, sadness, happiness, and surprise. Through cross-cultural research, the scientist found that these emotions are biological rather than culture-specific and can be conceptualized along with the level of activation and degree of pleasantness. Since the attribution of the six basic emotions, research has continued to determine other basic emotions. In the 1980s, the new core emotion of contempt was discovered based on the experiments conducted with the New Guineans.

Even though the basic facial expressions are the same from culture to culture, what makes one angry, sad, or laugh depends on the cultural, as well as social, background from which one comes. This is because there are informal cultural rules of what is acceptable or not. For example, if one finds something to be funny, another person may find it to be humiliating or just not funny. For example, despite the fact that Brits may enjoy their national comedies, the majority of them are almost never mentioned by non-Brits whose sense of humor is different.

Whether someone will publicly display emotion is mostly culturally determined. People learn how to regulate their emotions early in life, relying mainly on patterns of emotional expression considered appropriate in their subculture. For example, it has been found that southerners tend to be more expressive and open than northerners, who keep emotions to themselves (Burton et al. 662). Thus, emotional display rules are not universally determined, as they depend on culture and geography.

Conclusion

The topic content which I wish to apply is cultural differentiation between what makes one feel sad, angry, or happy. I could make use of Lazarus’ cognitive approach theory which states that people experience emotions depending upon the events happening to them and going around them (Burton et al. 676; McDougall 130). I believe that the study of emotions, specifically, their nature and factors which make one feel certain things, may be of particular importance not only in my future job but in personal life, too. By learning the mechanisms of emotional reactions and the nature and causes of human motives, I will be able to understand interpersonal communication better. This knowledge will help me build effective relationships with people and be more emphatic with them.

Works Cited

Burton, Lorelle, et al. Psychology. 5th ed., Wiley, 2018.

McDougall, William. An Introduction to Social Psychology. Psychology Press, 2015.

Niedenthal, Paula, and Francois Ric. Psychology of Emotion. 2nd ed., Psychology Press, 2017.

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1. IvyPanda. "Introduction to Psychology: Motivation and Emotion." June 5, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/introduction-to-psychology-motivation-and-emotion/.


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IvyPanda. 2021. "Introduction to Psychology: Motivation and Emotion." June 5, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/introduction-to-psychology-motivation-and-emotion/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Introduction to Psychology: Motivation and Emotion'. 5 June.

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