When your emotions come up you want to pay attention. You want to listen to them.
-Jon Butcher, Author of Mindvalley’s Lifebook Program
Learning to master our emotional states is easier said than done. But the first step is in understanding:
What are emotions?
Here’s all you need to know about the four core emotions.
What Are Emotions And Feelings?
Is there a difference between emotions vs feelings?
The short answer: yes. In fact, they actually occur in entirely different parts of the brain.
Emotions occur in the brain’s ventromedial prefrontal cortex and amygdala. Different emotional states can be measured by the brain’s activity, blood flow, and facial expressions.
On the other hand, feelings come from the neocortical regions of the brain. They are our mental associations to a certain emotion.
The main difference? Emotions are our response to an external stimulus. While feelings are the brain’s byproduct that reflects our perception of the emotion.
Contemporary psychology distinguishes a core handful of emotions. Of these emotions, there are four core emotions we all experience on a day to day basis.
What are the 4 core emotions?
A recent study at Glasgow University indicates that there are 4 core emotions:
The combined classifications of fear/surprise and anger/disgust might seem somewhat confusing. But the researchers made a compelling argument that these emotions are much more similar in nature than we realize.
Just take a look at the facial expressions used for these emotions. For example, your nose may wrinkle when you’re disgusted or when you’re angry.
The reasons for these similarities lie in the evolutionary nature of human emotions.
In the case of both fear and surprise, your eyes widen to allow for a better response to danger. While it may have helped our ancestors to flee from peril, the contemporary emotional response is usually linked to societal reasons rather than physical threats.
What Are The 7 Human Emotions?
There’s plenty of evidence to support Glasgow University’s theory of 4 core emotions. However, some might find this theory lacks an adequate explanation for all the nuances of human emotion.
After all, there are 43 different muscles on your face which can produce more than 10,000 different expressions. With that in mind, it’s not uncommon to find sources that cite the 7 human emotions as follows:
The muscles around your eyes contract and your cheeks rise. Your lips extend into a broad smile.
Good or bad, your reaction to a surprise is the same. The mouth opens, pupils dilate, and eyebrows and eyelids rise up.
Loose eyelids, a down-turned mouth, and contracted inner corners of the eyebrows indicate sadness.
To show distaste, your lips become will grimace, your nose will wrinkle, and your eyebrows will contract.
When experiencing fear, your brows slide up, your eyes widen, and your mouth may fall open.
The angry face is designed to make you look stronger. Your eyes narrow as you grit and bare your teeth, creating a warning sign for whoever is on the opposite side.
This is one of the few emotions that affect just one part of your face. Your eyes appear neutral as one corner of your lip pulls to the back corner of your face.
With a better understanding of other people’s emotional responses, you can also better understand your own.
In turn, you’re better equipped to handle the feelings that come from your emotions and can gain better control over your responses.
What do you feel most often? Let us know in the comments below.