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Emotion is the complex psychophysiological experience of an individual's state of mind as interacting with biochemical (internal) and environmental (external) influences. In humans, emotion fundamentally involves "physiological arousal, expressive behaviors, and conscious experience".[1] Emotion is associated with mood, temperament, personality and disposition, and motivation. The English word 'emotion' is derived from the French word émouvoir. This is based on the Latin emovere, where e- (variant of ex-) means 'out' and movere means 'move'.[2] The related term "motivation" is also derived from the word movere.

No definitive taxonomy of emotions exists, though numerous taxonomies have been proposed. Some categorizations include:

  • 'Cognitive' versus 'non-cognitive' emotions
  • Instinctual emotions (from the amygdala), versus cognitive emotions (from the prefrontal cortex).
  • Categorization based on duration: Some emotions occur over a period of seconds (for example, surprise), whereas others can last years (for example, love).

A related distinction is between the emotion and the results of the emotion, principally behaviors and emotional expressions. People often behave in certain ways as a direct result of their emotional state, such as crying, fighting or fleeing. If one can have the emotion without the corresponding behavior, then we may consider the behavior not to be essential to the emotion. Neuroscientific research suggests there is a "magic quarter second" during which it's possible to catch a thought before it becomes an emotional reaction. In that instant, one can catch a feeling before allowing it to take hold.[3]

The James-Lange theory posits that emotional experience is largely due to the experience of bodily changes. The functionalist approach to emotions (for example, Nico Frijda and Freitas-Magalhaes) holds that emotions have evolved for a particular function, such as to keep the subject safe.


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