Study of emotions

Every aspect of human behavior passes through a pattern of development resulting in changes as the individual grows from childhood to adulthood. Emotions are not an exception. The basic developmental process is common in a general way for all individuals.

McDougall’s concept of emotions as being part of an instinctual process. According to this view, instincts and emotions were both innate patterns. For a long time, it was widely believed that emotional behavior was essentially inherited.

John Watson identified fear, anger, and love as three basic emotions. Fear could be aroused by a loud noise or loss of bodily support. rage by the restriction of bodily movements. Love by the stimulation of certain sensitive zones of the body.

M.C. Jones and the Shermans found that young infants did show a general pattern of excitement irrespective of the stimulus. This generalized pattern later got differentiated into different forms of familiar emotional behavior. In certain cultural groups, people are capable of a large number of emotional experiences. In other societies the number of different emotional experiences is smaller. It has been estimated that the English language has at least four hundred words to describe emotional experiences.

A classical attempt in the study of the development of emotions was made by Katherine Bridges who observed children concerning their emotional behavior. Bridges concluded that the newborn child exhibits a general pattern of excitement which, within the first three months, gets differentiated into distress and delight. By the time the child is two years old, it is found to be capable of experiencing and expressing a large number of pleasant and unpleasant emotions.

Different investigators have given different lists:
  • Woodword, in 1938, proposed the list of emotions which include love (mirth and happiness), surprise, fear, anger, and disgust (contempt).
  • Frijda (1968) proposed the list of emotions as happiness, surprise, fear, sadness, anger, disgust, calm, bitterness, pride, irony, insecurity, and skepticism.

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