Human Emotions and Writing



Let’s talk about emotion. You know, that important part of our writing. Well, I think I know what emotion is, but I’m not sure. In researching emotion, I found that many scholars have discussed the issue over the years.

In the 1890s William James, brother of Henry James, decided emotion is the perception of bodily changes. Since then, many experts have suggested many explanations and models for emotion. Two major perspectives today conflict by dealing with emotion  as either expression or experience. Groups of researchers who embrace the social construction paradigm prefer the experience approach. More physiological researchers tend to like the expression approach. Emotional experience is studied through subjective states perceived by individuals. Emotional expression deals with physiological or behavioral responses to stimulus.

I wonder about why people developed emotions in response to the needs of primitive man in dealing with the world. Surely emotion contributes to what motivates people to take action. Happiness or sadness, make us get off the couch and do something. Anger makes us contribute to a political campaign, or argue with our boss. So emotion seems to motivate human action.

Another use of emotion is for communication with our companions. Isn’t it most often more fun to see a movie with friends or loved ones. It seems to increase our interest when we are around other people who are reacting emotionally. So, emotion serves a social purpose to binding people together and helping them communicate.

All-in-all emotion seems to be a tool for humans to process sketchy, incomplete, confusing sensory inputs. We have our intellectual brains to process clear, factual information, but humans need to react when there is not clear information to process.

Art is a great field in which to observe emotion at work. Paintings, music, TV, movies, and books can evoke, trigger, and channel emotions. Let’s keep working on this fun topic.

Academic Titles:

Campe R, Weber J. (2014). Rethinking Emotion : Interiority And Exteriority In Premodern, Modern And Contemporary Thought. Berlin : De Gruyter.

Smith, Greg, M. (2003) Film Structure and the Emotion System.
Cambridge University Press.

Websites: source of emoticons The a-to-z Challenge S. A. Gibson author page

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