This essay evaluates the various aspects of emotions together with cultural dimensions to which emotions can be attached. Emotions evolutionary aspects together with biblical principles of emotions are also discussed. Emotions are described as the state of mind or attributes which are associated with very strong feelings of fear, joy, happiness and sorrow by the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2016). Emotions are culturally relevant since various cultural displays determine the tendencies and types of emotional expressions which are deemed to be agreeable within particular types of cultures (David, 2014). Cultural rules offer guidance as to how people can control their emotions hence this results in a difference in emotional experience. A good example is how Asian cultures value social harmony over personal gains whereas Western cultures put more emphasis on self-promotion of individuals (Matsumoto, 1990). People from cultures that put emphasis on social cohesiveness have the ability to suppress strong emotions and reactions since they evaluate an ideal response when they are in a given situation.
Most emotional expressions are universal. In as much as cultures differ, people easily recognize facial expressions that tend to be universal. Universal emotions are mostly associated with peculiar facial expression. The seven main universal emotional expressions are surprise, anger, sadness, disgust, happiness, fright, and contempt (Ekman, 1971). Blindness can also be attributed to congenital factors, but even such individuals are in a position to express the seven main emotional expressions despite the fact that they have never seen such expressions. This explains and supports the argument that emotions have some aspects of universality in it. On the other hand, some emotions such as pride and tenderness are quite complex hence they are quite different from normal emotions since they revolve around the various relationships that one can have with other individuals.
There are various evolutional theories to evolution. James-Lange Theory of Emotion posit that emotions are portrayed when one reacts to various events that affect their psychological status (James, 1884). Cannon-Bard Theory suggests that emotions dont necessarily determine psychological reactions (Cannon, 1927). Schachter-Singer Theory suggests that specific arousal must first cause various emotions. In Cognitive Appraisal Theory, thought processes first occur then followed by emotions (Myers, 2004). In Facial-Feedback Theory of Emotion, facial expressions determine emotions. In all the theories, emotions evolved based on the psychological state of an individual and that survival was dependent on variously expressed emotions. Evolutionary theories suggest that expressions of love and strong affection led to animals and human beings to find compatible mates and procreate. Evolution theorists suggest that survival was determined by how fast man or animals responded to hazardous environmental stimuli.
With the advent of Christianity, emotions are viewed in an entirely different perspective. In some societies, integration of the views of Christianity with regards to how emotions are supposed to be expressed varies a great deal. In Christian societies, emotions can be suppressed so as to show empathy, remorse, and pity since Christians believe that one ought not to look down or despise a fellow human being even if the other person is in a self-inflicted situation. In other societies, especially animists, and atheists societies, expression of remorse emotions is reserved since they believe that difficult mankind situations are self-inflicted. To support this concept, biblical principles encourage that Christians ought to be happy despite the situations that they find themselves in since they are assured of eternal life that is devoid of earthly tribulations. Anger and revenge are discouraged no matter what an individual has done to you. Love for arch enemies is encouraged in Christian societies.
According to Myers (2014), drive reduction theory on various behaviors is influenced by the biological necessities of an individual. Myers (2014) suggests that human tend to act in an impulsive manner so as to satisfy their emotional needs. Different stress levels and emotions have an intimate connection according to him. Some of the emotions that are bodily expressed are quite difficult to understand, and that adaptive arousal can be in shortened spurts. People tend to best performance when they are aroused moderately, but the level of performance differs with the levels of difficulty of the task undertaken.
ReferencesCannon, W. B. (1927) The James-Lange Theory of Emotion: A Critical Examination and an Alternative Theory. American Journal of Psychology, 39, 10-124.
David G. Myers (2014). Psychology with Updates on DSM-5, 472-560
Ekman, P. (1971). Universal and Cultural Differences in Facial Expressions of Emotion.
Emotion. (n.d.) American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. (2011). Retrieved November 1, 2016 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/emotionMatsumoto, D. (1990). Cultural Similarities and Differences in Display Rules. Motivation and Emotion. 14 (3): 195214
Myers, D. G. (2004). Theories of Emotion. Psychology: Seventh Edition.
James, W. (1884). What is an Emotion? Mind, 9, 188-205.
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