We explain what emotions are and how they develop at each stage of life. Also, what are its characteristics and classification.

What are Emotions?

Emotions are commonly called certain psychophysiological reactions of the human being that arise before a certain stimulus, both internal (memories, evocations, etc.) and external (communicative acts, situations, etc.), mediated by the personality or by the distinctive features of the individual. individual.

Emotions are distinguished from feelings in that the latter are more enduring  and can be easily expressed in words, whereas emotions are more rapid-fire and take place in a less conscious region of the mind and body , triggering automatic responses and sometimes instinctive, such as postures, facial gestures, involuntary movements and even, in extreme cases, can modify the entire behavioral structure of the person and make them act in unprecedented ways.

Some characteristics of emotions are invariable, if you will instinctive, common to all human beings , while others may vary and depend on cultural or social factors.

Origin of emotions

Origin of emotions

The word emotion comes from the Latin word emotio , which translates "that which mobilizes" or simply "impulse". In this it is evident that they have always been considered as forces that mobilize the human being , in fact ancient cultures such as the Greek attributed emotional raptures to the intervention of some god in the heart of the person.

Emotions also seem to be present in higher animals and this shows an evolutionary origin related to the preservation of the individual and his primary drives: protection (fear), defense (rage), etc.

In the case of man, emotions are born with us and grow in complexity as we mature and gain emotional intelligence.

  1. Emotional intelligence

This is the name given to the human ability to deal with emotions in a more conscious, less impulsive way, and it would be one of the things that would distinguish us from animals , whose impulses manifest instantly.

Emotional intelligence has been studied and promoted in various areas such as psychology , psychoanalysis and even self-help, aspiring to a humanity less moved by its primary impulses and more capable of controlling itself.

  1. Stages


Human emotions go through different stages throughout our development, and can be classified into:

  • Childhood. Emotions during the first months of life are capable of perceiving negative and positive emotions, but not fully expressing them.
  • Childhood . Around the age of two four, human beings can recognize and understand the most basic emotions, as well as understand that they can generate different responses.
  • Adolescence . This period is characterized by an emotional volatility that makes individuals difficult, sensitive, always on the verge of their emotionality, as a consequence of the hormonal adjustments that take place in their organism and the strong social changes around them.
  • Adulthood . Adults are supposed to deal with their emotions more consciously and calmly, since they already recognize them and can express them in words. This does not mean that they cannot be taken by them from time to time.

  1. Classification


Human emotions can be classified into:

  • Primary or basic. Those that are more elemental and linked to immediate responses to a stimulus, such as sadness, happiness, surprise, disgust, fear and anger.
  • High schools. Those that are more elaborated and that arise from basic emotions, such as joy or satisfaction, are closer to feelings to the extent that they enjoy greater psychic elaboration.

Another possible classification is:

  • Positive. Emotions that point to the individual's well-being and pleasure.
  • Negative.  Those that tend to suffering and pain.

  1. Emotional quickness

Emotions are characterized by occurring with great rapidity , that is, all of a sudden, and usually go away with a similar rapidity, unless the stimulus that causes them is intense and remains active.

But in general, emotions give in to time , and that is why it is recommended to wait before reacting to certain events, in order to do so with a "cool head".

  1. Physiology

Emotions are not only mental, they also occur in the body . They have been found to originate in the nervous systems , but involve different muscles and circuits that are often activated during the emotional "high."

For example, a sudden surprise causes a tachycardia , intense fear can release the bladder or even the intestines, rage can lead to tears, etc.

  1. Most frequent emotions

Most frequent emotions

The most frequent emotions are usually fear, anger, sadness, happiness, surprise and disgust (or revulsion). Each one is linked to very basic responses in the face of specific situations, so that they are strategies of the organism to adapt to those stimuli that prevent them from remaining indifferent.

  1. Emotional health

Emotional health is a term that refers to the place given to emotions in the cultural or social framework in which we live . Many times, we are taught to repress or hide our emotions, instead of making them visible or expressing them in some way, as they are considered a form of weakness or exposure.

For example, many children are raised forbidding them to cry “because it's for girls” . All that consciously repressed emotionality will seek an outlet that often makes it difficult to recognize what it feels like, because along the way the original emotion has given way to another, which is the one that manages to come to the surface.

  1. Somatization


This is the name given to the process in which emotions that are not expressed or repressed for too long are transformed into physical ailments, as an escape route for the accumulated emotional tension . For example, anger can lead to headaches, sadness to lack of appetite, etc.

  1.  self-regulation of emotions

One of the most frequent strategies to deal with emotions and avoid crises is self-regulation: the ability to be aware of what we feel and give it a kind and voluntary outlet. Thus, it is usually recommended:

  • Speak. The expression of contained emotions is the main civilized way to show or share them, especially if it is with the person who causes them.
  • Accept.  The acceptance of emotions is key in self-regulation, because only by making room for them in our mental order can we understand what they reveal.
  • To drain. Above all, intense and destructive emotions such as anger or fear can be channeled into physical activities that allow them to "burn" or give them a controlled and positive outlet.

The above content published at Collaborative Research Group is for informational and educational purposes only and has been developed by referring to reliable sources and recommendations from technology experts. We do not have any contact with official entities nor do we intend to replace the information that they emit.


Cultural journalist with great interest in education and technological innovation in the classroom. The future passes through technology and it is already here. .

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