How Emotions are Made

day1 research

Posted on Nov 7

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Lisa Feldman Barrett
distinguished professor of psychology, Northeastern University
director, Interdisciplinary Affective Science Lab


The Interdisciplinary Affective Science Laboratory studies what emotions are and how they work using experiential, behavioural, psychophysiological and brain-imaging techniques.


In today’s session Prof Lisa Feldman Barret will address three myths about emotions:

1) The face: For many years scientists believed that we all express emotions the same way. Same emotions can be expressed with different faces. A face does not speak for itself.

2) Women are more emotional than men. There are no differences on average by sex. This myth is based on gender stereotypes. [Experiment of showing image with same face, but different hair and asking about how emotional the shown person is?]

3) There are dedicated emotion circuits in the brain. Our brain is a master of deception, it creates experiences but at the same time it can mislead us. As a matter of fact, emotions are not built into your brain. They are build by your brain, as you need them. They are our constructions of the world we perceive.

Emotions are your brain’s explanation of sensations based on the experiences one perceives.

The horizon of control over emotions is much greater than we think:
  • Change state of the body will alter emotions significantly.
  • Change the surrounding, by simply moving physically or mindfully.
  • Change of internal model by using past experienced to make predications, cultivate new experiences that have a positive impact on future predication.

We all are architects of our own experiences.

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