Plutchik-wheel by Machine Elf 1735 - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
All About Awe: Science Explores How Life’s Small Marvels Elevate Cognition and Emotion The truly awesome encounters in life don’t reside in the everyday but rather in the experiences we have that are somehow magnificent and powerful. As cutting-edge research in psychological science is beginning to show […] that awe, though mysterious, is an emotion we shouldn’t take for granted, as it may have surprisingly meaningful consequences for everyday behavior and even overall well-being. From The APS Observer, Volume 28 (4), April 2015.
An Upbeat Emotion That’s Surprisingly Good for You A new study singles out one surprising emotion as a potent medicine: awe. And happily, awe seems to be much easier to come by than many might expect, even for the busy and stressed-out. This, according to research by Dacher Keltner and colleagues published in the journal Emotion and summarized here for the New York Times, March 26, 2015.
The Biology of Kindness: How it Makes Us Happier and Healthier Summarizes research by Barbara Fredrickson and colleagues which finds that people who engage in Loving Kindness meditation shows great responsiveness of the vagus nerve which plays a role in regulating glucose levels, immune responses, altruistic behavior, and how we connect and bond to one another. From Time, May 9, 2013.
The British Museum of Science on Emotions The British National Museum of Science has an extensive interactive web site. This online exhibit on recognizing emotions, emotions and the brain, faking emotional expression, animal emotions, and more.
A Chart of Emotions that Have No Names in the English Language Designer Pei-Ying Lin has created interesting conceptual charts of emotions including one for emotions that have no names in the English language and another for new emotions invented by the Internet.
Comparing the 5 Theories of Emotion Psychiatrist Beppe Micallef-Trigona briefly reviews the James-Lange theory, the Canon-Bard theory, the Schachter two-factor theory, the Cognitive-Mediational theory of Lazarus, and the facial feedback theory in this article for Brain Blogger. Posted October, 2014.
Computer Maps 21 Distinct Emotional Expressions — Even “Happily Disgusted” From the page: Researchers have found a way for computers to recognize 21 distinct facial expressions -- even expressions for complex or seemingly contradictory emotions such as “happily disgusted” or “sadly angry.” The study more than triples the number of documented facial expressions that researchers can now use for cognitive analysis. From Science Daily, March 31, 2014.
Conveying Emotions On this site, Eric Conveys an Emotion, Eric takes requests from the Internet audience and then posts a picture of himself conveying that emotion. He covers the basic emotions -- fear, anger, sadness, happiness -- and also debatable "emotions" like bemused resignation, dumbfounded, oops, stressed-out, and deer in headlights. All of it is in good fun and it might be a good way to illustrate or introduce a lecture on emotions.
Culture: When it Comes to Emotions, Eastern and Western Cultures See Things Very Differently People from Eastern cultures take the context into account when judging emotions more so than people from Western cultures. The emotions of background figures were more likely to influence the judgments of Japanese participants more so than that of North Americans in this research by Takahiko Masuda published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and summarized in Science Daily March 7, 2008. Also summarized in here in Live Science, April 21, 2008.
Depression: 9 Holiday Depression Busters Time-tested ways to cope with the flurry of the holiday season. Brought to you by BeliefNet writer Therese J. Borchard.
Elation This article by Emily Yoffe from Slate Magazine, December 3, 2008 describes the emotion of elevation: Elevation has always existed but has just moved out of the realm of philosophy and religion and been recognized as a distinct emotional state and a subject for psychological study. Psychology has long focused on what goes wrong, but in the past decade there has been an explosion of interest in positive psychology — what makes us feel good and why. University of Virginia moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt, who coined the term elevation, writes, Powerful moments of elevation sometimes seem to push a mental reset button, wiping out feelings of cynicism and replacing them with feelings of hope, love, and optimism, and a sense of moral inspiration.
The Emotion Which Has a Wonderful Protective Effect on Mind and Body Positive emotions, especially the feeling of awe, have been linked to lower levels of inflammatory cytokines by a new study [which] suggests that the positive feeling from enjoying the beauty of nature or getting lost in a painting or symphony can actually help protect the body against heart disease, arthritis, depression, and even Alzheimer’s disease. The research was done by Jennifer Stellar, Neha John-Henderson, Craig L. Anderson, Amie M. Gordon, Galen D. McNeil, and Dacher Keltner, and published in the journal Emotion.
Emotionally Vague Orlagh O'Brien presents the results of a research project which explored the question: How do people feel anger, joy, fear, sadness and love? People answered by indicating what these emotions felt like and where in the body they experience the emotion. Using word, color and line O'Brien hopes to create visual languages for each emotion.
Endless Original Music: Computer Program Creates Music Based On Emotions. A group of researchers from the University of Granada (UGR) has developed Inmamusys, a software program that can create music in response to emotions that arise in the listener. By using artificial intelligence (AI) techniques, the program enables original, copyright-free and emotion-inspiring music to be played continuously. This summary from ScienceDaily, June 2, 2009.
e-Textbook From the electronic textbook created for undergraduate courses in General Psychology by George Boeree of Shippensburg University.
The Feeling That Expands Time and Increases Well-Being Awe, that jaw-dropping moment when coming across something surprising, powerful, beautiful or even sublime can have a transformative effect, according to new research published in Psychological Science and summarized here in PsyBlog, April 16, 2015.
General This site, by Steve Hein, author of EQ for Everybody, provides this general overview of various emotions and the importance of emotions to human functioning.
The Genetic Predisposition to Focus on the Negative Research by Rebecca Todd and colleagues suggests that people with the ADRA2b gene are more likely to take not of negative emotional events than people without the gene. The was no difference in the processing of positive emotion words by people with and without the gene. From PsyBlog, October 2013.
Happiness and the Brain The Dana Alliance, a nonprofit organization of brain research scientists, posts this overview of the neuroscience of happiness Hardwired for Happiness by Silvia Helena Cardoso.
Hello Stranger What happens when strangers are enticed to break the unwritten no eye contact rule? Positive emotions! Read about this research by Nicholas Epley and Juliana Schroeder in this piece from the New York Times, April 25, 2014.
How Your Mood Changes Your Personality Research by Jan Querengässer and Sebastian Schindler found that When participants answered questions about their personality in a sad state, they scored "considerably" higher on trait neuroticism, and "moderately" lower on extraversion and agreeableness, as compared with when they completed the questionnaire in a neutral mood state. From BPS Research Digest, July 17, 2014.
How to Make Love to a Stranger? One of the quickest ways to gain the benefits of positive emotion is to share a moment or positivity resonance with another person, even if that person is a stranger. Researcher Barbara Fredrickson wants us to expand our definition of love and science writer Daniel Tomasulo tells us how in this piece for the PsychCentral blog, April 9, 2013.
How Positive Emotions Lead to Better Health Research by Bethany Kok and colleagues suggests that Positive emotion, positive social connections, and physical health influence one another in a self-sustaining, upward-spiral dynamic. Read a summary of their research from Psychological Science here in Pacific Standard, May 8, 2013.
I feel like a Different Person Wray Herbert summarizes the work of Claire Ashton-James on the relationship between mood and identity in his blog We're Only Human from March 12, 2009. He takes up the question of How much of our self is subject to the vagaries of our moods? by summarizing Shton-James's research on mood, attitudes, and cultural stereotypes.
Inside Out Movie Reflects the Realities and Fantasies of Neuroscience Kids --- and the general public --- may be learning about how the brain and emotions work from an unlikely source: the hit movie Inside Out (2015). This article takes a look at the science behind the movie.
It's Not The Job Market Is it true that The average High School kid today has same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950s? Have Americans become more anxious? Slate writer Taylor Clark considers the three real reasons why Americans are more anxious than ever before: loss of a sense of community, information overload, and misplaced faith in feel-goodism. Posted January 31, 2011.
Keeping Up That Positive Feeling: The Science of Savoring Emotions Savoring a beautiful sunset and the positive emotions associated with it can contribute to improved well-being, according to research. But why and how are some people better than others in keeping the feeling alive? From Science Daily, July 21, 2015.
Laughter: Only When I Laugh: The Science of Laughter Laughter overrides our usual vocal and physical control to make sounds we never normally hear in any other context. Read all about this intriguing response in The Guardian, July 6, 2015.
Love and Envy Linked by the Same Hormone: Oxytocin The hormone oxytocin, the "love hormone," which affects behaviors such as trust, empathy and generosity, also affects opposite behaviors, such as jealousy and gloating. "Subsequent to these findings, we assume that the hormone is an overall trigger for social sentiments: when the person's association is positive, oxytocin bolsters pro-social behaviors; when the association is negative, the hormone increases negative sentiments," explains Simone Shamay-Tsoory at the University of Haifa. This summary, from ScienceDaily, November 13, 2009.
Mapping Emotions On The Body: Love Makes Us Warm All Over When a team of scientists in Finland asked people to map out where they felt different emotions on their bodies, they found that the results were surprisingly consistent, even across cultures. From NPR Health News, December 30, 2013.
Men and Women Process Emotion Differently Women rate emotional images as more emotionally stimulating than men do and are more likely to remember them. However, there are no gender-related differences in emotional appraisal as far as neutral images are concerned. These were the findings of a large-scale study that focused on determining the gender-dependent relationship between emotions, memory performance and brain activity according to research published in January 2015 in the Journal of Neuroscience and summarized here by Science Daily.
Mood: How We Feel Linked To Both Our Culture And How We Behave This summary describes research by Claire Ashton-James et al. who found that Feeling good did indeed encourage the volunteers — both European and Asian — to explore values that are inconsistent with their cultural norms. And elevated mood even shaped behavior, allowing volunteers to act 'out of character'. From Science Daily, April 19, 2009.
Nervous Laughter, Tears of Joy These incongruous — and other often inappropriate and embarrassing emotional expressions — may actually help us to regulate our emotions. That is, when we are at risk of being overwhelmed by our emotions -- either positive or negative -- expressing the opposite emotion can have a dampening effect and restore emotional balance according to psychologists Wray Herbert writing for The Huffington Post, November, 2014.
Ode to Joy and Serenity and Curiosity and . . . Wray Herbert summarizes the work of Barbara Fredrickson on the Broaden and Build theory of positive emotions in his blog We're Only Human December 16, 2008. He takes up the question of What are positive emotions for? by summarizing Fredrickson's research on resilience and positive emotions.
Other People May Experience More Misery Than You Realise Summarizes research which suggests that we underestimate other people's experience of negative emotions and put on an unrealistically happy front because we think that's the norm. British Psychological Society Research Digest, January 24, 2011. Jordan, A., Monin, B., Dweck, C., Lovett, B., John, O., and Gross, J. (2010). Misery Has More Company Than People Think: Underestimating the Prevalence of Others' Negative Emotions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37 (1), 120-135.
Overview The Great Ideas in Personality web site presents this table summarizing 14 different theories of emotions. Also includes links to papers related to the theories.
People Who Wear Rose-colored Glasses See More, Study Shows. “Good and bad moods literally change the way our visual cortex operates and how we see,” says Adam Anderson, a University of Toronto professor of psychology. “Specifically our study shows that when in a positive mood, our visual cortex takes in more information, while negative moods result in tunnel vision. The study appears in the Journal of Neuroscience. This summary from ScienceDaily, June 6, 2009.
Psychmovies.com Brooke J. Cannon, Marywood University, created and maintains this extensive site which lists movies illustrative psychological principles organized by topic, genre, and popularity ratings. Check out her suggestions for mood disorders, personality disorders, anxiety disorders, and more.
Scary Santa Scholarship Summarizes the work of John Trinkaus, called the Scary Santa Studies, on the facial expressions of children waiting to see Santa at a department store. The emotion most often shown across the four studies? Indifference.
Science Explains Why Comedies Are Funnier When You See Them in a Crowded Theater Research published in the journal Emotion suggests that group attention intensifies emotions relative to attending alone. From Discover Magazine, September 2, 2014.
Social Connections Drive the 'Upward Spiral' of Positive Emotions and Health People who experience warmer, more upbeat emotions may have better physical health because they make more social connections according to a study by Barbara Fredrickson and Bethany Kok published in Psychological Science and summarized here by the Association for Psychological Science, May 8, 2013.
Study Cracks How Brain Processes Emotions From the website: Although feelings are personal and subjective, the human brain turns them into a standard code [of neural activation] that objectively represents emotions across different senses, situations and even people, reports a new study. Despite how personal our feelings feel, the evidence suggests our brains use a standard code to speak the same emotional language, one researcher concludes. From ScienceDaily, July 9, 2014.
Table of Basic Emotions based on Ortony and Turner (1990) and Parrot (2001).
This Facial Expression Appears More Trustworthy To Others According to research by Hehman, Flake, and Freeman (2015) in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin and summarized here for PsyBlog, A neutral face with a slightly upturned mouth and eyebrows makes people look more trustworthy, a new study finds. [But] the same neutral face with a slightly angry expression is seen as less trustworthy.
Universal Emotions: Pride and Shame The victory stance of a gold medalist and the slumped shoulders of a non-finalist are innate and biological rather than learned responses to success and failure, according to a University of British Columbia study using cross-cultural data gathered at the 2004 Olympic and Paralympic Games. While the article itself published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is available to subscribers only, you can read an abstract and download supporting information including graphs, photos, and results broken out by type of culture (e.g. individualistic, collectivistic) here. (opens in PDF).
Assignments, Exercises, and Activities
10 Easy Activities Science Has Proven Will Make You Happier Grounded in research, these activities including practicing gratitude, controlling counter-factual thinking and others may be used to spark discussion or to introduce topics in stress, resilience, cognition, emotion, and positive psychology.
Emotions: Spot the Fake Smile Can you tell which smiles are genuine and which are fake? Take this 10-minute test, based on the research of Paul Ekman, in which you watch brief video clips of 20 people smiling.
Participate in Online Research The Social Psychology Network, maintained by Scott Plous, Wesleyan University, lists over 150 web-based experiments, surveys, and other social psychological studies. Click on the section labels Personality and Individual differences to find links to studies on various topics such as the Five Factor Model, birth season, motivation, anxiety and more.
Darwin (1872). The British Library has placed much of Charles Darwin's writings on the web including this classic paper The expression of the emotions in man and animals, London: John Murray, (1872), organized by chapter and including the original illustrations.
Darwin: The Expression of The Emotions in Man and Animals Among Project Gutenberg's many gems is this free version of the complete text of Charles' Darwin's classic book Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals, New York: Appleton and Co, (1898).
Examples and Illustrations
How Good Are You At Reading People? How good at you at identifying the basic emotional expressions in the eyes and face? Here is a fun quiz based on the research by Paul Ekman and others on facial expression of the basic emotions.
Science of Sadness And Joy: Inside Out Gets Childhood Emotions Right The hit film of the summer of 2015, Inside Out, depicts life for an 11-year old girl. Much of the film takes place inside her mind, in a control center staffed by five emotions personified: Joy, Sadness, Fear, and Disgust. Read about the science behind the movie and the contributions of psychologists Dacher Keltner and Paul Ekman who were consultants to the film.
Tests, Measures, and Scales
Cognitive Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (CERQ) The CERQ by Nadia Garnefski and Vivian Kraaij is a 36-item multidimensional questionnaire constructed in order to identify the cognitive emotion regulation strategies (or cognitive coping strategies) someone uses after having experienced negative events or situations. Contrary to other coping questionnaires that do not explicitly differentiate between an individual's thoughts and his or her actual actions, the present questionnaire refers exclusively to an individual's thoughts after having experienced a negative event.
The Positive and Negative Affect Scale (PANAS) The PANAS is based upon research demonstrating that self-reported mood states can be effectively classified on two dimensions. Each PANAS scale comprises ten specific mood-related adjectives rated on five-point scales of frequency over a two-week period.
The Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS-X) The PANAS-X, contains 60-items measuring general positive and negative affect and 11 specific affects including fear, sadness, guilt, hostility, shyness, fatigue, surprise, joviality, self-assurance, attentiveness, and serenity. This link is to the manual by David Watson and Lee Anna Clark (1994). Opens in PDF format.
Scale of Positive and Negative Experience (SPANE) The Scale of Positive and Negative Experience by Diener et al. (2009) is a 12-item questionnaire includes six items to assess positive feelings and six items to assess negative feelings. For both the positive and negative items, three of the items are general (e.g., positive, negative) and three per subscale are more specific (e.g., joyful, sad).
This Emotional Life From the website: ``The Emmy Award-winning team of Vulcan Productions and the producers of NOVA have created a three-part series that explores improving our social relationships, learning to cope with depression and anxiety, and becoming more positive, resilient individuals. Harvard psychologist and best-selling author of Stumbling on Happiness, Professor Daniel Gilbert, talks with experts about the latest science on what makes us tick and how we can find support for the emotional issues we all face. Each episode weaves together the compelling personal stories of ordinary people and the latest scientific research along with revealing comments from celebrities like Chevy Chase, Larry David, Alanis Morissette, Robert Kennedy, Jr., and Richard Gere. The first episode, Family, Friends & Lovers, looks at the importance of relationships and why they are central to our emotional well-being (includes an excellent overview of Attachment theory). In the second episode, Facing Our Fears, we look at emotions that are commonly regarded as obstacles to happiness — such as anger, fear, anxiety, and despair (includes a discussion of Anger, Depression, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Stress and Anxiety). The last episode, Rethinking Happiness, explores happiness. It is so critical to our well-being, and, yet, it remains such an elusive goal for many of us'' (includes Creativity and Flow, Forgiveness, Happiness, Humor, Meditation, Resilience). See more about the people and stories featured on the series, view selected video clips, learn more about the topics mentioned, find information about resources and support organizations, and purchase a DVD.
. This black-and-white documentary presents a 1950's view of emotions, taking a stimulus and response view of the emotion of rage. The film warns that emotions which are out of control can lead to a permanently warped personality. To develop a more pleasant personality young people should learn to control their emotions, by eliminating or modifying the emotional stimulus or by modifying their responses. Though quite dated and inaccurate, parts of it would make an entertaining introduction to current research on emotion or spark a lively discussion among students. Check out Part 1 here (8 minutes, 17 seconds) and Part 2 here (5 minutes, 01 second).