Guwahati,

Editorial

HOME   /   EDITORIAL   /   STORY

On Analysing Emotions

Over the centuries, there have been ceaseless attempts to analyse and classify human emotions. There has been no valid reason to worry too much about the emotions of animals since human beings have reasons to be concerned only about animals that are pets or those we use as beasts of burden and providers milk and meat. We look after them with great care to ensure that they continue to serve us efficiently for many years and to provide us with more milk and greater quantities of meat for the dining table. The dog has a very special place in our lives as a pet since it provides company and looks after our security. We may be somewhat concerned about the emotions of our pet dogs, but how the cattle feel about the way we treat them does not cause us to lose any sleep. And yet, all available evidence points to the fact that we have been conducting some interesting research into the different states of human emotions. Over the years, we seem to have arrived at the assumption that human emotions fall within the universal categories of happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear and disgust. There has also been widespread recognition of the fact that there is always an overlap of emotions that serves to change the very character of the accepted format. A new study on human emotions used statistical models to analyse the responses of 853 demographically diverse men and women to 2,185 emotionally evocative video clips. Researchers of University of University of California, Berkeley now have 27 distinct categories of emotions and have created a multidimensional map to show how they are connected. They include awe, peacefulness, horror, amusement and adoration among others. What is indeed questionable is whether the emotional responses of a select group to a certain number of video recordings can really lead to the creation of what is being called a “semantic atlas of human emotions”. What is bound to be of far greater significance to everyone is how people react in situations of emotional stress rather than what names one gives to the emotions newly added to the existing but inadequate six. The mere creation of jargon is unlikely to carry the human race very far. Much more important than finding names for all human emotions is how we deal with the blend of diverse emotions that has been an established feature of human existence.