What are Emotions ? Definition and Characteristics of Emotions

This article is about emotions. It explains emotions and gives a definition of emotions. This article explains the characteristics of emotions. The term emotion is very often used in our daily conversation. Although all of us experience emotions, but difficult to give the exact meaning of it.


The term emotions is very often used in our daily conversation. However it is not an easy job to define it precisely. Although all of us experience emotions we find it difficult to give the exact meaning of it. Psychologists have attempted to define emotions.

Emotions are fountainheads of energy. They give colour to our life and make it interesting. With out emotions the human life would be very dull and drcary. Therefore emotions are very important but the expression of emotions is not always done in the usual way. We have to manage or control the expressions of emotions. In this direction psychology is great importance.

Emotions can activate and direct behaviour in the same way as a biological or a social motive. In the past psychologists made considerable effort to classify emotions. They attempted to find dimensions to scale such emotions as sarrow, disgust, surprise, jealousy etc. Most emotions can be divided into pleasant and unpleasant. In the pleasant group we have such emotions as love, joy etc and in the unpleasant group we have anger, fear etc. In addition many of our emotional terms can be classified by intensity. Some psychologists use the term emotion for the more intense states that are accompanied by widespread changes in body physiology. They call the milder affective states "Feelings".

Definition of Emotions

The word emotions is derived from a latin root emovere which means to move, to agitate, to excite, to stir. R.S Woodworth defines emotion as " a stirred up state of body and mind." According to this definition emotion is that state of mind where we find certain psychological changes which are known only to the individual who is experiencing an emotion. Emotion is also a stirred up state of body in the sense it brings about certain bodily changes which are external and hence can be seen by other for example striking behaviour is typical of anger.

Characteristics of Emotions

Emotions has some outstanding characteristics. These characteristics must be understood clearly in order to understand the nature of emotions.

1. One of the outstanding is that emotion has a wide range that is emotions is something universal emotions are experience not only by human beings but also by animals although animal experience more or less the same emotions experienced by human beings they differ depth, intensity and also quality.

2. According to a psychologist name stout when ever an individual experience an emotions it has a reference to a general situation and not to a particular object this opinion was experienced by stout long back know there has been a remarkable progress in psychological search which has shown that emotions has a reference to a particular object and not to a general situation.

3. Emotions have two resource namely direct perception and ideas (indirect). Direct perception of a situation may provoke one or other emotion. However ideas memory may also provoke emotions.

4. Emotions rise as a result of satisfaction or non satisfaction of biological means :- Emotions are closely related with the working of biological needs while satisfaction leads to the arousal of pleasant emotions, the non satisfaction may lead to unpleasant emotions.

5. Emotions and thinking are inversely related :- It is a well known fact that during emotions excitement, our thinking and reasoning are grossly effected. Thinking and reasoning cannot go on properly during an emotional experience. Many times we regret for the mistakes we had committed when we were given to strong emotions. After we have recovered this clearly indicate we cannot carry on thinking and experience emotions in the same time.

6. Emotions involve some internal changes :- Emotions are always accompanied by some internal changes which are known only to the individual who is experienced the emotions. This internal changes may be the ones like increase in the heart beat increase the pulse rate swelling rise in the blood pressure etc.

7. Emotions also bring about certain external changes :- This changes can be seen by others the external changes may be in the form of facial expressions or behaviour pattern.

8. Another characteristics of emotional mood :- Emotional mood is experienced when an emotion inhibited (control). Society does not like the individual to give expression to his emotions as he experience it because of training and social pressure the individual inhibits emotions it is during this stage that an emotional mood is experienced for example :- Husband and wife quarrel being highly cultured one cannot take direct action on the other in case of beating or abused the father shows his contempt on the child although the child is not responsible for his present emotions mood the purpose of showing contempt on the child is to express his contempt indirect on his wife.


Guest Author: Nidhi01 Feb 2015

Good approach of explaining emotions in scientific way, it is really helpful. Thanks

  • Do not include your name, "with regards" etc in the comment. Write detailed comment, relevant to the topic.
  • No HTML formatting and links to other web sites are allowed.
  • This is a strictly moderated site. Absolutely no spam allowed.
  • Name: