EMOTIONS Meaning, Definition, Nature, Purpose, Determinants

Table of Contents:-

  • Meaning of Emotions
  • Emotion Definition 
  • Nature of Emotion
  • Purpose of Emotions
  • Basic Emotions
  • Determinants of Emotions
  • Affect, Mood and Emotion
  • Relationships of effects, moods, and emotions 
  • Managerial Implications of Emotions

Meaning of Emotions

Emotions Meaning Emotions are clearly defined feelings, bodily sensations, behaviors, or qualities of consciousness, such as joy, happiness, anger, or sadness, which reflect the personal significance of events that evoke emotions.

The major types of emotions include compassion, sadness, anger, fear, surprise, excitement, pleasure, shame, anxiety, interest, guilt, hatred, and happiness. These emotions develop in a series throughout infancy and childhood.

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Emotions deeply affect almost everything a person does in the workplace. Many discoveries have revealed that our perceptions, attitudes, decisions, and behaviour are affected by both cognition and emotion and that the latter often has the more significant influence.

Emotions are reactions to an object, not a characteristic. They are object-specific. People show their emotions when they are happy about something, angry at someone, or afraid of something. Moods, on the other hand, are not focused on an object. 

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Emotions can turn into moods when they lose focus on the contextual object. So when a fellow worker criticizes you for the way you talked to a customer, you may get angry at him. But later in the day, you may find yourself just generally discouraged. This effective state describes a mood.

Emotion Definition 

According to McDougal, “Emotion is a form of experience that accompanies the performance of an instinctive act”.

According to Crow and Crow, “An emotion is an affective experience that accompanies generalized personal adjustment and mental and physiological stirred-up states in the person and shows itself in his or her overt behaviour”.

According to Linda Davidoff, “Emotion is defined as a feeling that is expressed through physiological functions such as faster heartbeat, facial emotions, and behaviours such as aggression, crying, or covering the face with hands”.

Nature of Emotion

The nature of emotion is as follows:

1) Every emotion is followed by a physiological change such as a change in blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, change in pulse rate, and change in facial expression, voice, and body movements.

2) Emotion is accompanied by a feeling of pleasantness and unpleasantness, followed by physiological changes.

3) Emotions are purely individual and subjective. The same situation may call upon different emotions in different individuals.

4) Emotion is a tripolar response having cognitive, affective, and conative aspects. 

5) Emotions have a wide range; therefore, they are not restricted to a particular age. They can occur in adolescents, children, adults, or any living being. 

6) Emotions rise instantly. The drop of emotions is, however, slow, leaving behind an emotional state which lasts for some time.

7) Emotions have swings. One emotion can give rise to another emotion, and the two may get integrated.

8) An emotion is mostly raised when an individual faces a difficult situation when his or her basic need is challenged or he is not satisfied. A situation that is real or imaginary, is always connected with emotion.

9) Emotion is normally temporary, it tends to have a clear beginning and end, as well as a comparatively short duration. 

10) Emotional experience can be positive in the form of joy, happiness, and laughter or it may be negative as in sadness. It can also be a mixture of both happiness and sadness, as in the bittersweet feelings of watching one’s child leave for the first day of kindergarten.

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Purpose of Emotions

Emotions serve the following purposes:

1) Motivation

Motivation is linked to emotions. Emotions act as motivators for us. Without emotions, we would likely not engage in many activities and struggle to survive, at least in the evolved form that we are in now. Motivations are experienced in the body – our muscles tense or relax, and our blood vessels dilate or contract. Emotional experiences are inherently tied to physical sensations. Consequently, our emotions can make us feel comfortable or uncomfortable, sending signals that prompt us to maintain comfort or take urgent action.

2) Internal Signals

Internally, for example, when trying to understand something or make a decision, we rely on our emotions to determine whether our conclusions are sound. The Cognitive Appraisal Theory and Self-Perception Theory of emotion explain how we interpret our emotions by observing ourselves.

When we contemplate something that contradicts our values, our emotions, and beliefs tell us it is terrible. When we consider something that could harm or is dangerous, our emotions signal us that it is not a good idea. Just by envisioning what might happen, our emotions are still triggered; hence, they help us make better decisions.

3) Social Signals

We generally wear our hearts on our sleeves as our inner emotions are displayed on our outer bodies. Facial expressions contain meaning about the expresser’s psychological state but also about that person’s intent and subsequent behaviour.

Facial expressions and signals are generally very useful as they help others decide how to behave towards us and what the perceiver is likely to do. If a person is looking angry, then attacking him or her is most likely not a good idea. If someone is looking afraid then, you could attack them, or you could help them and thus earn their gratitude.

Basic Emotions

Basic emotions are considered discrete states of experience. 

The basic emotions are as follows: 

1) Dislike: It implies antipathy toward something. Dislike is a general word, sometimes implying an inherent or permanent feeling of bitterness for something to have a dislike for crowds.

2) Anger: This is an emotion related to one’s psychological interpretation of having been offended, wronged, or denied and a tendency to react through retaliation.

3) Envy: It is best defined as a resentful emotion that “occurs when a person lacks another’s (perceived) superior possession, quality or achievement and wishes that the other lacked it”.

 4) Fear: It is the ability to recognize danger leading to an urge to confront it or flee from it (also known as the fight-or-flight response) but in extreme cases of fear (terror and horror) a freeze or paralysis response is possible. 

5) Distress: Stress for a long time hurts both, our work life and our personal life is known as distress.

6) Happiness: It is an emotional or mental state of well-being characterized by pleasant or positive emotions ranging from ease to intense joy.

7) Affection: The act of caring or a feeling of liking; the state of being affected.

8) Surprise: It is a momentary emotional state experienced as the result of an unexpected event.

9) Sadness: This is an emotional pain associated with or characterized by feelings of loss, despair, disadvantage, sorrow, helplessness, and rage.

10) Shame The painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something improper, dishonourable, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another.

11) Sexual Arousal: This (also known as sexual excitement) is the arousal of sexual desire, during or in anticipation of sexual activity.


Determinants of Emotions

The determinants of emotions are as follows: 

1) Personality

Personality incline people to experience certain emotions and moods. For example, some people feel happiness, guilt, and anger more easily than others do. Others may feel relaxed and calm no matter the situation. In other words, emotions and moods have a trait component to them, most people have built-in tendencies to experience certain moods and emotions more frequently than others do.

While most people might feel sad at one movie or be mildly amused at another, someone high on intensity would cry like a baby at a sad movie and laugh uncontrollably at a comedy. 

They are described as “emotional” or “intense”. So, emotions differ in their intensity, but people also differ in how predisposed they are to experience emotions intensely. If a person gets mad at a co-worker, he or she would be experiencing an emotion intensely. 

But if that person gets excited or mad easily, then he or she would be high on the personality trait of affect intensity. Also, positive events are more likely to affect the positive mood and positive emotions of extroverts and negative events are more likely to influence the negative mood and negative emotions of those scoring low on emotional stability.

2) Day of the Week and Time of the Day

Most people are at work or school Monday through Friday. For most people, that means the weekend is a time of relaxation and leisure. Does that suggest that people are people? Are they in their best moods on the weekends? 

Well, actually, yes, people tend to be in their worst moods (highest negative effect and lowest positive effect) early in the week and their best moods (highest positive effect and lowest negative effect) late in the week.

What about the time of the day? When are people usually in their best mood and worst? It is often thought that people differ depending on whether they are “morning” or “evening” people. However, the vast majority of us follow a similar pattern. People are generally in lower spirits early in the morning. 

During the day, our moods tend to improve and then decline in the evening. It is due to the temperature rise. What does this mean for organisational behaviour? Asking someone for a favour, or conveying bad news, is probably not a good idea on Monday morning. The workplace interactions will probably be more positive from mid-morning onward and also later in the week.

It does seem that people who describe themselves as morning people are more alert early in the morning. However, these morning people experience only slightly better moods (more positive affect) in the morning compared to those who describe themselves as evening people (and vice-versa).

3) Weather

When are the people in a better mood? When is it 29 degrees, sunny, or when it’s a gloomy, rainy, cold day? Many people believe their mood is tied to the weather. However, evidence suggests that weather has very little effect on mood. 

The illusion explains why people tend to think that nice weather improves their mood. The illusion of correlation occurs when people associate two events, but in reality, there is no connection between them. People often associate things as causal when in fact there’s no true relationship. That appears to be the case with weather and moods.

4) Stress

Stress is a reaction to the pressures of everyday life, stress affects emotions and moods. For example, students have a high level of fear before their exam, but once the exam is over, their fear also disappears. 

At work, stressful daily events like a nasty email, an impending deadline, the loss of a big sale, being reprimanded by your boss, and so on negatively affect employees’ moods. Also, the effects of stress build over time.

5) Social Activities

Social activities can increase positive moods and have little effect on the negative moods of most people. But do people in positive moods seek out social interactions, or do social interactions cause people to be in good moods? It seems that both are true. And, does the type of social activity matter? 

Indeed, it does. Research suggests that physical (skiing or hiking with friends), informal (going to a party), or Epicurean (eating with others) activities are more strongly associated with an increase in positive mood than formal (attending a meeting) or sedentary (watching TV with friends) events.

6) Exercise

We often hear that people should exercise to improve their mood. But does “sweat therapy” really work? It appears so. Research consistently shows that exercise enhances people’s positive moods. 

It appears that the therapeutic effects of exercise are strongest for those who are depressed. Although the effects of exercise on moods are consistent, they are not strong. So, exercise may help put you in a better mood, but do not expect miracles.

7) Age

One study of people aged 18-94 years revealed negative emotions seem to occur less as people get older. Periods of highly positive moods lasted longer for older individuals and bad moods faded more quickly. The study implies that emotional experience tends to improve with age, as we get older, we experience fewer negative emotions,

8) Gender

The common belief is that women are more in touch with their feelings than men, that they react more emotionally and are better able to read emotions in others. The evidence confirms the differences between men and women that when it comes to emotional reactions and the ability to read others, women show greater emotional expression than men as they experience emotions more intensely and display more frequent expressions of both positive and negative emotions, except anger. 

In contrast to men, women also report more comfort in expressing emotions. Finally, women are better at reading paralinguistic cues and nonverbal cues than men.

Affect, Mood and Emotion

Affect, mood and emotion are closely intertwined:

1) Affect

Affect is a common term that covers a broad range of feelings that people experience. This concept encompasses both emotions and moods. Traditionally, it refers to any analytic(positive or negative) attitude towards an object. 

Affect may be viewed as a feeling or a state that people experience, such as happiness, sadness, anger, or frustration. It may also be viewed as quality (e.g. Goodness or badness or both) associated with a stimulus. 

Here the effect is conceptualized as a physiological state that is experienced as either pleasant (positive affect) or unpleasant (negative affect). This is surely not the only way to conceptualize an affective state. 

For example, one could consider bodily or physiological reactions that occur without phenomenological awareness. Here it is assumed that, however, it is the experience of an affective state that is most directly related to the interplay between affect and cognitive processing.

2) Moods

Mood states, like emotional responses to an object, are transitory or episodic affective reactions that occur for circumscribed periods. Unlike emotional responses, however, they are not cognitively associated with any particular eliciting stimulus. 

Thus, a person can be in a happy mood without being able to designate a cause or reason for being in such a state. Moods are feelings that tend to be less intense than emotions and that often (though not always) lack a situational stimulus. Emotions are intense feelings that are directed towards something or someone.

3) Emotions

Emotions are reactions to a person’s internal stimuli (e.g., seeing a friend or a family member at work may make you feel glad) or an event (e.g., dealing with a rude client may make you feel angry). People show their emotions when they are afraid of something, happy about something or angry at someone.

Moods, in contrast, are not usually directed at an individual or an event. But emotions can turn into a mood when you lose focus on an object, thing, or event that started the feeling. Emotion is another subset of affect.

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Relationships of effects, moods, and emotions 

The relationship between effects, moods, and emotions is shown in the figure 

1) As per the figure, the effect is a broad term that encompasses emotions and moods. 

2) Secondly, there are differences between emotions and moods. Some of these differences are that emotions are more likely to be caused by a specific event and emotions are more fleeting than moods.

3) Other differences are subtler. For example, unlike moods, emotions tend to be more clearly revealed with facial expressions (e.g., anger, disgust). Also, some researchers believe that emotions may be more action-oriented they may lead us to some immediate action while moods may be more cognitive, meaning they may cause us to think or brood for a while.

4) Finally, the figure shows that emotions and moods can mutually influence each other. For example, an emotion, if it is strong and deep enough, can turn into a mood. Getting your dream job may generate the emotion of joy, but it also can put you in a good mood for several days.

Managerial Implications of Emotions

People’s moods and emotions have profound effects on their performance in organisations. Affect, mood and emotion play the following roles in the organisation:

1) Job Performance

Happier people tend to outperform less happy people in several different ways. To begin with, they tend to get better jobs-i.e., ones that give them high levels of autonomy, meaning, and variety. Then, once on their jobs, they perform their jobs more successfully.

This occurs among people in jobs ranging from dormitory resident advisors to cricket players. Interestingly, this same effect also occurs at the highest echelons of organisations. Happier CEOs of companies tend to have happier employees working for them. 

And, of course, happy employees are less inclined to resign. In part because of this, their organisations tend to be more profitable. The importance of happiness cannot be overstated when it comes to job performance.

2) Memory

It has been shown that mood is interestingly related to memory. Being in a positive mood helps people to recall positive things, whereas being in a negative mood helps people to recall negative things. This idea is known as mood congruence.

For example, if you go to work while you are in a good mood, chances are that this will help you to remember those things on the job that also put you in a good mood, such as the friendly relationships you have with your co-workers. 

Focusing on positive things (the result of being in a positive mood) is likely to promote successful job performance because it encourages people to put forth extra effort which they would be unlikely to do when focusing primarily on how bad things are.

3) Decision-Making

Recent evidence has suggested that people who are depressed make poorer decisions than happy people. Because depressed people are slower at processing information and tend to weigh all possible options rather than the most likely ones. 

Positive people, in contrast, know when a solution is good enough. Indeed, positive emotions seem to help decision making. Positive emotions can increase problem-solving skills and help us understand and analyze new information.

4) Creativity

People who are in good moods are more creative than people in bad moods. They produce more ideas, others think their ideas are original, and they tend to identify more creative options for problems. It seems that people who are experiencing positive moods or emotions are more flexible and open in their thinking, which may explain why they are more creative.

5) Negotiation

Displaying a negative emotion (such as anger) can be effective, but feeling bad about your performance appears to impair future negotiations. Negotiators who do poorly experience negative emotions, develop negative perceptions of their counterparts and are less willing to share information or be cooperative in future negotiations. Interestingly, then, while moods and emotions have their benefits at work, in negotiation, unless we are putting up a false front (feigning anger), it seems that emotions may impair negotiator performance.

6) Job Attitudes

Several studies have shown that people who had a good day at work tend to be in a better mood at home that evening. And people who had a bad day tend to be in a bad mood once they are at home. Evidence also suggests that people who have a stressful day at work have trouble relaxing once they get off work.

7) Evaluation

Mood also biases the way people and things are evaluated. For example, people report greater job satisfaction at their workplace while they are in a good mood than when they are in a bad mood. Being in a good mood also leads people to perceive the positive side of another’s work. 

Because being in a good mood keeps managers from perceiving even the good behaviour of their subordinates as bad, it helps them to offer the kind of encouraging feedback that is likely to help their subordinates to improve their performance. 

By contrast, managers whose bad moods keep them making negative evaluations are unlikely to be able to help their subordinates to improve their work. This, of course, makes those managers less than effective themselves.

8) Co-operation

Mood strongly affects the extent to which people help each other, cooperate, and refrain from behaving aggressively. People who are in good moods also tend to be highly generous and are inclined to help their fellow workers who may need their assistance.

People who are in good moods also are inclined to work carefully with others to resolve conflicts with them, whereas people in bad moods are likely to keep those conflicts brewing. This is yet another reason why being in a good mood enhances job performance.

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