Emotions are something that we all experience, but very difficult to understand. Scientists, behavioral psychologists and similar professionals have been long been studying various aspects of emotions, trying to pinpoint exactly what they mean and how they come about. We know that there are some emotions that are universal, and felt and expressed in the same basic way in cultures all throughout the world. Science has also allowed us to find out that different emotions are paired with distinct physiological changes, such as an elevated heart rate and clenched fists when you are angry.
A recent study, conducted by an assistant professor at a University in Finland, explores in more depth some of the psychological dimensions of emotions. Participants in the study were shown images and stories that were intended to illicit a specific emotion, and were then asked to color in two silhouettes of the human body based on where they did or didn’t feel a change in sensation in their body while experiencing each emotion. If they felt an increase in sensation in a certain area, they colored that area in on one “body,” and if they felt sensation leave a part of the body, they marked that on a different map. The study involved participants from Finland, Sweden and Taiwan.
The results of the study showed that most people experienced the sensations related to each emotion in similar places, and the results are exhibited by the graphic illustrating the compiled silhouettes for each emotion. The results are really interesting to look at, and really make sense. Probably the most poignant is how people reported that during happiness their entire bodies filled with strong sensations everywhere, and for depression, the body was essentially empty of all sensation. The results of the study are certainly fascinating, but since they are based entirely on self-reports, none of the findings can be regarded as concrete. However, it will certainly be interesting to see what subsequent research is like, especially when it comes to learning more about and treating emotional disorders. It offers some really cool insight on how we actually experience emotions beyond the purely physical level. If you want to read the full report of the study as it appeared in the journal it was published in, you can check it out here. Also, if you want to see how the experiment was laid out, you can do that here.
What do you think of this study?
H/T: The Huffington Post