Folk theory and many classic approaches to emotions assume that a stimulus will trigger an emotional reaction that then needs to be regulated, or it will go on and on and on ... The auto-regulation model (e.g., Kappas, 2011) assumes that emotions influence their eliciting situation and in this interaction will lead to their own modulation, including termination.
Christina responded: "Ah too tough to justify emotion with regulation. Emotion is an expression which may or may not cause other to regulate their feelings..The criteria here is "Concern" What you say?"
Thanks Christina. I did not mean to 'justify' emotion. However, I do not think that emotion and regulation should be contrasted as much as they are, when many people discuss these terms. And I do mean scientists as well as non‐scientists!
I believe that we call emotions is an integral part of a regulation system - or integral parts, plural, because I believe we subsume several functionally related processes under the heading emotion, even if they differ with regard to when and where they happen.
When you say that emotion is an expression, I do not ask "expression of what?" but "why is it expressed?" - and here I am not talking about each individual case but generally. The question, for me at least, is not why person x showed emotion Y in the situation Z, but rather why tend people to show Y in situations of type Z. So the thought here would be that something is expressed to achieve something - either in or for the expressor directly, or for others, which probably means for both. I believe that if there is a systematic pattern of Y to be shown in situations Z then it is a mix of biology and cultural constraints that shaped that pattern because it serves a particular function. The function is what would cause that link to become stable over time.
The function could be to get attention, to appease, to threaten, etc etc. This is what I mean with regulation in the sense that relationships with others are structured via what we call emotions.
What do you mean with "concern" in this context? Whether the situation that is associated with the expression is of personal concern to the person who is in the emotional state?
"El tahrir", taken on Feb 5, By Mahmoud Saber
Time flies. Whether one is having fun, or not. My blog has been quiet during the last semester as I was focusing on new research activities. Now, spring semester has started at Jacobs University and I am back to the regular teaching routine. One of the courses I teach is Emotion and Motivation and so it is only natural to make a link between some of the topics that come up in the course and this blog.
The fact that emotions are important appears obvious to most people, but whether research on emotion is important is less so. Depending on the current global, or local, historical context it is more apparent which role emotions can play. They are important at the level of the individual, of smaller groups of people, and of large groups. The current events in Egypt and the news reports in the various media have touched everybody I know. While there are many reasons why people want freedom and prosperity, it is clear that the want is accompanied by strong emotions. Note, that I wrote accompanied - because scientifically, it is not easy to demonstrate an exclusive causation - and of course, we would have to get back to the perennial question of how to define emotions exactly. I also have no empirical data - nobody would want to go to Tahrir square and start measuring how people feel, or how their body responds. So, for the time being let us stick with a softer statement: Emotions play a role in this whole business. And they do that on all sides. One of the things I showed in class was a short clip from CNN with Anderson Cooper ("Video: Anderson Cooper takes on intimidation."). Fear on all sides.
The current events make it again clear that Fear is not just something that appears to happen to us, but that Fear is something that people can do to other people. Intimidation at a personal or at an institutional level is used to bias/change the behavior of others. Thus we can think of emotions also a social tool and not just a subjective experience, or bodily process.
One of the topics I am currently dealing with is the regulation of emotion. In the wider sense this relates not only to how emotions are regulated within our body/mind, but also how emotions regulate the interaction of people and the behavior of groups of different size. There is a current debate to what degree it is possible to distinguish emotions from their regulation. I, for example, argue that emotions always involve regulatory processes.
Kappas, A. (201!). Emotion and regulation are one! Emotion Review, 3, 17–25. doi:10.1177/1754073910380971
Arvid Kappas is Professor of Psychology at Jacobs University Bremen. He has been conducting research on emotions for over three decades in the US, Canada, and in several European countries.