All Posts tagged emotions

What happens when we get angry?

Asymmetries of brain activity

Nonetheless, “by focusing on the asymmetric brain activity of the frontal lobe that occurs when we experience emotions, there are two models that contradict the case of anger”, the researcher highlights.

The first model, 'of emotional valence', suggests that the left frontal region of the brain is involved in experiencing positive emotions, whilst the right is more related to negative emotions.

The second model, 'of motivational direction', shows that the left frontal region is involved in experiencing emotions related to closeness, whilst the right is associated with the emotions that provoke withdrawal.

The positive emotions, like happiness, are usually associated to a motivation of closeness, and the negative ones, like fear and sadness, are characterised by a motivation of withdrawal.

However, not all emotions behave in accordance with this connection. “The case of anger is unique because it is experienced as negative but, often, it evokes a motivation of closeness”, the expert explains.

“When experiencing anger, we have observed in our study an increase in right ear advantage, that indicates a greater activation of the left hemisphere, which supports the model of motivational direction”, Herrero points out.. In other words, when we get angry, our asymmetric cerebral response is measured by the motivation of closeness to the stimulus that causes us to be angry and not so much by the fact we consider this stimulus as negative: “Normally when we get angry we show a natural tendency to get closer to what made us angry to try to eliminate it”, he concludes.

Every emotion is unique

This is the first general study on emotions and more specifically on anger that examines all these different psychobiological parameters (cardiovascular, hormonal response and asymmetric activation response of the brain) in a single investigation to study the changes caused by the inducement of anger. In addition the results of the study are along the same lines as previous investigations and defend what has been noted by Darwin: that the emotions, in this case anger, are accompanied by unique and specific (psychobiological) patterns for each emotion.

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Emotions can predict future eating disorders

To this end, the following emotional variables have been specified: those relative to emotional experience —the frequency of positive and negative emotions, anxiety, low self-esteem and the influence of diet, weight and the body shape on the emotional state—; negative perception of emotions, negative attitude to emotional expression, alexithymia —the inability to identify own emotions and to express them verbally— and the manner of controlling negative emotions.

Moreover, another variable has also been taken into account: the need for control. This variable is not strictly emotional, but has a clear emotional component, given that people with a high need for control, experience anxiety and unwellness when perceiving lack of control.

Study of women

In order to undertake the study, 433 women took part; 143 of these suffered from some kind of eating disorder and 145 in risk of contracting one. The results of the study show that, in general, the majority of the variables put forward can be used as predictive of suffering an eating disorder. The variables which, above all, alert to greater risk of developing an eating disorder are when the emotional state of the person is excessively influenced by diet, weight and body shape, when self-esteem is low, and when, in anxiety situations, emotions are not expressed and the person tends to act in an impulsive manner.

These results have important implications, above all when drawing up prevention programmes for eating disorders. With the data obtained, it can be said that many of the emotional variables dealt with in Ms Pascual's work should be taken into account when drawing up these prevention programmes.

Serious illnesses

Eating disorders are very serious illnesses that have dire consequences for the sufferer, both physically as well as psychologically and socially, and there are disorders that are evermore widespread. Much research has been undertaken in order to find out the factors involved in their development, but the role played by the various emotional variables at the onset of these disorders has hardly been investigated. This thesis presented at the UPV/EHU focused on this matter more deeply.

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