Characteristics of Emotions

Characteristics of Emotions

characteristics of emotions

What science has taught us about emotional experiences

Have you ever caught yourself wondering how and why we become emotional? First, it’s important to note the similar characteristics of emotions, regardless of the emotion being felt.

Here’s a quick breakdown of some common characteristics of emotions:

  • There is a feeling, a set of sensations we experience, that we are consciously aware of. However, our ability to feel any emotion doesn’t necessarily mean we are aware of which emotion is being felt).
  • An emotional episode can be brief, sometimes lasting only a few seconds, but they can also last much longer at times. It’s important to remember that if it lasts for hours, then it is a mood and not an emotion.
  • It is about something that matters to you personally.
  • We experience emotions as happening to us, not chosen by us.
  • The appraisal process, in which we are constantly scanning our environment for those things that mattered to us, is usually automatic. In other words, we are not conscious of our appraising, except when it is extended over time.
  • There is a refractory period that initially filters information and knowledge stored in memory, giving us access only to what supports the emotion we are feeling. The length of one’s refractory period varies depending on the person and the circumstances, and can last anywhere from a few seconds to much, much longer.
  • We become aware of being emotional once the emotional experience has begun, when the initial appraisal is complete. Once we become conscious that we are in the grip of an emotion, we can then reappraise the situation.
  • There are universal emotional themes that reflect our evolutionary history, in addition to many culturally-learned variations that reflect our individual experiences. Essentially, we become emotional about matters that were relevant to our ancestors as well as ones we have found to matter in our own lives.
  • The desire to experience or not experience an emotion motivates much of our behavior.
  • An efficient signal–clear, rapid, and universal, often in the form of facial expressions, informs others of how the emotional person is feeling.
  • Fabricated emotional expressions can be detected, with difficulty, from greater asymmetry the absence of specific muscle movements that are typical in genuine expressions but difficult to perform voluntarily, and discrepancies in the timing of the expression from what fits the words being spoken.
  • Emotions masked with a smile they still leak the felt emotion in the upper eyelids, eyebrows, and forehead.

Learn to Read Emotions on Your Own

We know it can be difficult to grasp all the concepts and processes of our own emotions, let alone interpreting the emotional experiences of others. With the Micro Expressions Training Tools online program, you can learn how to spot micro expressions and other nonverbal emotional cues that reveal a people’s true feelings. Get access to the groundbreaking research that government agencies, educational institutions, and Fortune 500 companies across the globe are applying to their own operations.

Paul Ekman is a well-known psychologist and co-discoverer of micro expressions. He was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME magazine in 2009. He has worked with many government agencies, domestic and abroad. Dr. Ekman has compiled over 50 years of his research to create comprehensive training tools to read the hidden emotions of those around you.

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