Log Book

Research Topic: Defining Emotion

June-July 2016
Throughout the Zwischensemester, my research goals are to clearly define the context and psychology that will be the basis I will draw from in my design experiments.

Robert Plutchik

The function of Emotion is to restore the individual to a state of equilibrium when unexpected or unusual events create disequilibrium.
Plutchik, Nature of Emotions, American Scientist, Volume 89.

Professor and psychologist, Robert Plutchik developed the psychoevolutionary theory of emotion. Consisting of ten postulates, the theory proposes eight basic emotions - anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise, anticipation, trust, and joy. He considered these eight to be biologically given and have evolved with the purpose of an organism's survival. He also developed a 'Wheel of Emotions,' a circumplex model illustrating the eight basic emotions, the human feelings arising from those emotions and their combinations.

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Defining Emotion

When an organism has an Emotion reaction, it is far more complex than the subjective experience we, as human adults, perceive. Pluchik's theory frames Emotion as "not simply a linear event, but rather a feedback process" (2001). This feedback loop contains the entire relationship between the organism and the stimulus, not only the overt behavior display.

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Moving forward, my research employs the term Emotion and assumes its following two components to be true:

  • Emotion is a feedback loop containing the stimulus, inferred cognition in the processing of sensory signals, the feeling state generated by physiological changes, the goal-oriented action taken by the organism and the effect on its equilibrium.
  • Emotion functions in the aforementioned way as its values are communication and the survival of the organism.

In colloquial speech, we generally blur the relationship between Emotion and similar terms. In my research the following clarifications are assumed to be true:

  • Emotion relates to Moods and *Feelings in that if I am or am feeling Irritable, it stems from Anger.
  • Emotion relates to Personality in that if I am Shy, it stems from Fear.
  • Emotion relates to Emotional Disorders in that if I am Anorexic, it stems from Disgust.

*Feelings are mental experiences of body states (Emotion) and act as assigned meaning. Therefore: I am threated by a stimulus, my body experienced the basic Emotion of Fear and I feel Scared.

I have also listed out further defintions for other terms in my research.

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Semesterendpr├╝fung & Projektdisposition

June 2016
Delivery for semester ending consisted of a brief and concise presentation including: Project Goals, Contexualization of Work, Thesis and Research Questions, Intended Methodologies, Design Goals and Detailed Timeline for Zwischensemester.