What Are Emotions and How Do They Shape Our World?

Pages: 4 (1234 words) Published: March 3, 2013
What Are Emotions and How Do They Shape Our World

Emotions drive our daily lives and are the basis at all critical decisions according to Ekman, who believes facial expressions are “windows” to our emotions. Ekman began studying emotion in 1960 basing his study off of Margaret Meade, in that emotions are a cultural product and Darwin, who had the right ideas but no facts on emotions evolving. Darwin said “emotions are universal to all species and also can be observed in other animals, they are not unique to humans.” Ekman began research traveling to different cultures and ended up in New Guinea studying primitive culture to see if they had the same emotions as “us”. This primitive culture has never had contact with the outside world, they were something like a “stone age” in, they have never seen their reflections, do not have a written language and have never been in contact with outsides. Ekman used a method of study with children on this primitive culture because children do not have a written language, so he showed them different pictures portraying specific emotions and used English language, pigeon language, and the primitive language to say what that person is feeling. Through this study Ekman found that the morphology, or the facial configuration, expressed is the same for all people regardless of culture. Ekman believes culture shapes triggers of emotions, such as we have to be taught how to hate, because anger is learned. Also, culture teaches us how to manage expression, in which we establish habits and emotions become an automatic response. In addition, languages are words for representing emotions. Though if a word does not exist in the culture then does the emotion not exist? According to Ekman, no. The emotion is still there, but there is no word to express it.

Ekman believes there are seven basic emotions, which are snapshot expressions and can be seen at a distance. These emotions are: anger, fear, sadness, disgust, contempt,...
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