Emotions: Just what are they?
In 1884, William James asked the same question (Robert Solomon). But before we delve into the nature of emotions, we must put a standard by which emotions can be understood. According to Gary Rentschler, Ph.D., (2003), emotions can be defined as reactions that involve both the mind and the body (Renstchler, 2003). To Rentschler (2003), emotions are the products of a rational appraisal of probablities in a situation that will effect us in either a positive or negative way (Rentschler, 2003). Some define emotions as those that are usually connoted in the same breath as feelings (Encarta, 2008).
Psychological sources will tell us that emotions usually are accompanied by changes in our physical body (Philippine Thesophical Insitute, 2001). These may include but not limited to a decrease in saliva production, skin perspiration and secretion of adrenaline (Thesophical, 2001). Again, according to Rentschler (2003), different emotions will porduce different responses in our bodies; emotions that are positive will generate feelings of confidence, flexibility, optimism and thought stimulation (Rentschler, 2003). Negative types of emotions tend to promote pessimism, inflexibilty and increased muscular tension (Rentschler, 2003). These emotions will then decrease as a person moves on to maturity as a cause for a person’s behavior (Encarta, 2008).
Motives and emotions: Finding the link
Motives, on the other hand, can be defined as the final goal of a person’s actions (Infoplease). At the University of Maine, tests were conducted on McClelland’s theories linking emotions and motives. In his hypothesis, McClelland (1985) avers that each of the primary emotions is found to be connected to only one motive (Eileen Zubriggen ;Ted Sturman, 2002). In an effort to link motives with emotions, a test was conducted at the University of Zurich (Julia Schuler, 2008). In their study on emotional disclosure, it was found that in such cases as expressing traumatic events, it has good effects on the health and well-being of individuals (Schuler, 2008).
In their longitudinal studies, research bore out that the “affiliation” motive tends to abate or shrink the effects of written expression of emotions in relation to the well-being of indviduals (Schuler, 2008).
Infoplease. (1997). Motive. Retrieved July 14, 2008, from Infoplease website.
MSN Encarta. (2008). Emotion. Retrieved July 14, 2008, from Msn Encarta Online Encyclopedia website.
Philippine Thesophical Institute. (2001). The nature of emotional pain: the absic and derivative emotions. Retrieved July 14, 2008, from the Philippine Thesphical Institute website.
Rentschler, G.J., Ph.D. (2003). The meaning of emotions. Retrieved July 14, 2008, from
Schuler, J. (2008). The role of motives in the expressive emotion-well being relationship. January 1, 2008. Retrieved July 14, 2008, from the University of Zurich data base.
Solomon, R.C. (n.d.). Nature of emotions. Retrieved July 14, 2008, from Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Vol. 1.0. Retrieved July 14, 2008, from Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy website.
Zubriggen, E. L., Sturman, T.S. (2002). Linking motives and emotions: a test of McClelland’s hypotheses. Vol. 28, no.4 pp. 521- 535. Retrieved July 14, 2008, from SAGE Journals Online website.