Defining what emotions are is not simple and the different approaches tend to pay more attention to one or the other aspect.
In a previous article, we highlighted the precious contribution that Charles Darwin made in the study of emotions, revealing that their expression is an innate characteristic of man, therefore it is not learned, and is present in all cultures. A further proof of this thesis is that blind people from birth express their emotions with their faces without having been able to learn these manifestations from others.
From an evolutionary point of view we can observe that emotions are not only universal but they are also overcoming the insidious evidence of natural selection, therefore:
why did man lose his tail during his evolution but kept his emotions?
In the text “Emotional intelligence” Daniel Goleman states that “our emotions guide us in dealing with situations and tasks that are too difficult and important for them to be entrusted only to the intellect: think of moments of great danger, painful losses, the ability to persevere in their goals despite the frustrations, the establishment of the couple bond and the construction of the family nucleus “.
From this explanation we can understand that emotions have an adaptive function for human beings and consequently help them to orient themselves in complex situations, but
How can emotions be useful to man?
All emotions have impulses to act; in other words, action plans which have provided us with the evolution to manage life emergencies in real time. The very root of the word emotion is the Latin verb “moveo” which means to move, with the addition of the prefix “ex-” to indicate that in every emotion there is an explicit tendency to act, to bring out, to manifest an internal state.
On the other hand, these biological inclinations to a certain type of action are then further shaped by personal experience and culture, which allow their own interpretation of the emotional experience. Everyone experiences emotions interpreting them in a very different way from others due to different influences that can reach the culture of belonging, from one’s family and from the people met.
An example can be the use of the voice linked to emotions: in some cultures the voice must never be raised either by a sign of respect or because this causes embarrassment in those who express emotion on a lively way; while in other cultures using a high volume of the voice is a means to accentuate the emotional manifestation and is not only accepted but also preferred.
A second example can be the loss of a loved one who universally arouses sadness and pain. But the way we express our grief – the way emotions are exhibited in public or held back to express them only in private – is shaped by culture.
It is difficult to define emotions, but scholars have no doubts about their usefulness to humans and there are now numerous proofs in favor of their being innate and universal in all human beings.