The Psychology of Emotions

Our mental life is greatly influenced by our bodily signals
Representational Image
Representational Image Maxpixel [Creative Commons]

This write up deals up with the main concepts and theories of social cognition. We’ll be seeing how our intelligence is not just about being logical, and so it’s not just about logic and reasoning, but being intelligence also means being able to understand emotions, to understand our own emotions and others’ emotions. We’ll see together how some discoveries, for example, the discovery of mirror neurones, together with the discovery of some theories, important theories, for example, a theory of mind, really change the way now we conceive our ability, and we study the human’s ability to understand others emotions.
     

In particular, we’ll see how the discovery of mirror neurones and the theory of mind made researchers believe that we might rely a lot on our body, together with our mind, when it comes to understand others emotions. So by the end of this week, you will be in touch with where you will be very familiar with these main theories of social cognition and with literature behind it. So
     

An individual intelligence cannot be reduced to logic and reasoning skills. There are other types of intelligence that refer to an individual ability to deal with her or his own emotions and with others’ emotions. We’re going to see how this ability or trait can include many different emotional and social skills, and we’re going to see how our daily life can be affected by our social cognition skills and how they are strictly embedded in our body, that is the perception of our own body.
     

Emotional strengths was first introduced by Abraham Maslow in 1950. Term emotional intelligence seems first to have appeared in 1964 in a paper by Michael Beldoch. In 1983, Howard Gardner’s, Frames of Mind, the theory of multiple intelligences introduces the idea that traditional types of intelligence such as the IQ fail to fully explain cognitive ability.
     

He introduced the idea of multiple intelligences, which included both interpersonal intelligence, that is the capacity to understand the intentions, motivations, and desires of other people. Intrapersonal intelligence, that is the capacity to understand oneself, to appreciate one’s own feelings, fears, and motivations.

The emotional intelligence, or also said the emotional quotients, or the emotional intelligence quotient is the capacity of individuals to recognise their own emotions and those of others to discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, and also to use emotional information to guide thinking and behaviour, and adjust emotions to adapt to the environment. Although the term first appeared in 1964, it gained popularity in 1995, best selling book; Emotional Intelligence, written by science journalist Daniel Goleman.
     

Goleman defined emotional intelligence as the array of skills and characteristics that drive leadership performance. Awareness of emotions helps to notice them and live with them in harmony without touching them. According to Daniel Goleman, emotional intelligence is constituted of five components; self-awareness, self-regulation, internal motivation, empathy, and social skills.

The component of self-awareness is the ability to recognise and understand personal moods and emotions and drives as well as their effect on others. Hallmarks of self-awareness include self-confidence, realistic self-assessment, and a self-deprecating sense of humour. Self-awareness depends on one’s ability to monitor one’s own emotional state and to currently identify and name one’s emotions.
     

According to Daniel Goleman, self-regulation is also a component of emotional intelligence, and is the ability to control or redirect destructive impulses and moods, and the propensity to suspend judgement and to think before acting. Hallmarks include; trustworthiness and integrity, comfort with ambiguity, and openness to change.
     

The internal motivation is a passion to work for internal reasons that go beyond money and status, which are external rewards such as an inner vision of what it is important in life, a joy in doing something, curiosity in learning, a flow that comes with being immersed in an activity. Internal motivation is a propensity to pursue goals with an energy and persistence that come from the inside rather than from the outside. Hallmarks include a strong drive to achieve, optimism even in the face of failure, and organisational commitment.
     

Internal motivation is also strictly linked to what we give priority in life and our table of values. A strong internal motivation is very often associated to what we think is good for our well-being, rather than according to our fear for others’ judgements. Empathy is the ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people, a skill in treating people according to their emotional reactions.
     

Empathy is often thought to lead to sympathy, which implies concern and care or wish to soften negative emotions or experiences in others. However, it is important to note that empathy does not necessarily imply compassion. Empathy can be used for compassionate or cruel behaviour. For example, there are cases of serial killers marrying and killing partners and still having great empathic skills. Finally, the fifth fundamental component of emotional intelligence according to Daniel Goleman is the social skills. Social skills involve proficiency in managing relationships and building networks, the ability to find common ground and build relationship with others. Hallmarks of social skills include effectiveness in leading change, persuasiveness and expertise, building and leading teams.
     

In other words, an individual with high social skills has the ability to recognise what the person she’s facing is motivated by, wishing for, fearing, and generally speaking the overall personality and interests of that person.

Various models have been developed to measure emotional intelligence. According to Konstantinos Petrides, for example, the emotional intelligence is not an ability, but it is rather a trait, a personality trait, and it is therefore our behavioural dispositions, and it’s the trait model of emotional intelligence in 2001.

Petrides focuses on self reporting of behavioural dispositions and perceived abilities. However, according to Salovey and Mayer, the emotional intelligence is rather an ability model. It is therefore an individual’s ability to process emotional information and to use it to navigate the social environment.

In light of these views, Goleman’s original model may now be considered a mixed model that combines what has since been modelled separately as the ability emotional intelligence and the trait emotional intelligence.

Criticisms have centred on whether emotional intelligence is a real intelligence and whether it has incremental validity over IQ and the Big Five personality traits. However, meta analysis have found that certain measures of emotional intelligence have some validity even when controlling for the IQ and personality traits.
     

The Salovey, Mayer, and Caruso new model published in 2012, contains 141 items divided in eight tasks which belonged to four branches, assessing every emotional intelligence dimension.

Branch 1 is the perceiving emotion branch. It assesses one’s ability to identify emotion in one’s physical and psychological states, to express emotions accurately, to discriminate between accurate, honest, and inaccurate dishonest feelings. Branch 1 includes two sub tests; faces and images, that assess one’s ability to identify emotions in faces and in images.

Branch 2, using emotions assesses one’s ability to redirect and prioritise thinking on the basis of associated feelings, in particular, to describe emotions associating them similar sensory stimuli. This is assessed by the subtest sensations. But also this branch assesses one’s ability to identify emotions that help thoughts and adaptive behaviour, and this is assessed by the subtest facilitation.
     

Branch 3, understanding emotions. Measures one’s capacity to identify how several emotions blend. This is assessed by the subtest blends. But also this branch assesses one’s ability to identify when emotion intensity changes and when one emotion turns into another one.
     

Branch 4 assesses one’s ability to open to feelings, both pleasant and unpleasant, to monitor and reflect on emotions through the subtest managing emotion. The emotional relationships subtests asks to raise four reactions to some scenarios according to how effective they are as a motion management strategies. Various models have been developed to measure emotional intelligence.
     

According to Konstantinos Petrides, for example, the emotional intelligence is not an ability, but it is rather a trait, a personality trait, and it is therefore behavioural dispositions. In his the trait model of emotional intelligence in 2001, Petrides focuses on self reporting of behavioural dispositions and perceived abilities.

However, according to Salovey and Mayer, the emotional intelligence is rather an ability model. It is therefore an individual’s ability to process emotional information and to use it to navigate the social environment. In light of these views, Goleman’s original model may now be considered a mixed model that combines what has since been modelled separately as the ability emotional intelligence and the trait emotional intelligence. Studies have shown that people with high emotional intelligence have greater mental health, job performance, and leadership skills although no causal relationships have been shown.
     

Emotions allow us to be informed about how the person we are interacting with evaluates the situation and our own behaviour and about their future intention. Emotional signals motivate the other’s behaviour and are aimed at the modification of the surrounding social environment, for example, prompting approach or avoiding attitudes in the observer.

A fast processing of the other’s facial expressions, especially those informing of a potential danger in the environment, such as fearful faces a great adaptive value and it’s important for quick and effective social interaction. We are able to effortlessly recognise facial expressions in less than one second, even when the face is perceived without conscious awareness.
     

Our mental life is greatly influenced by our bodily signals. The embodied cognition is the theory that many features of cognition, whether human or otherwise, are shaped by aspects of the entire body of the organism, not just from our brain but from our entire nervous system. The features of cognition include high level mental constructs such as concept and categories, and performance on various cognitive tasks such as reasoning or judgement.

Shabir Ahmad is a UPSC aspirant from Raiyar Doodhpathri.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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