Monday, November 07, 2011

Mood, Emotion and Choice

The strong link between memory and emotion evoked in earlier posts led me to Dylan Evans' Emotion: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2003), a mad dash through evolution and culture, observing various clues and passing furry fellow creatures, computers and robots along the way. 

If emotion "colors" memory, actual colors radiate influence on emotions, moods and choices. As does food intake -- the full range, from coffee and alcohol to spices, chocolate, sugar, hallucinogens and everything in between.

Among humans, moods and emotions transcend specific cultures, groups and societies, though culture may inform how we respond to them, or display/hide them.

Basic emotions include joy, distress, anger, fear, surprise and disgust (Evans, page 5) and later evolutionary additions: love, guilt, shame, pride, embarrassment, envy and jealousy (Ditto, page 21). Evans contends with each, considering why they may have developed. 

From the strength of his examples and from my own observations, I concur with nearly all of Evans' take on things. Some things remain open-ended, though, persisting as mysteries.

One conclusion is this: In our existential decision-making, our choosing what to do next, it's clear that emotional calibration is as key a component as logical calculation. The main thing is to be aware of emotional state, mood, and context -- if there's time to be aware. In some situations, snap decisions must be made: fight or flight in the blink of an eye, or by "instinct."

A typical writing prompt: Write about a time when you found yourself in a profoundly altered mood or emotional state. How did it feel?

Today's Rune: Partnership.         


the walking man said...

I was tripping for 36 hours and when I finally touched down I was tired but exhilarated. The circumstances or hallucinogens are not relevant as only the memory and the insights gained are.

jodi said...

Erik, I have had many profoundly altered moods and altered states! Usually over some man....I try to still listen to my instincts, but take a little longer to react. Thank God, I've gotten a little smarter thru experience!

Charles Gramlich said...

I'll be talking about a few such experiences in my class this coming week. Surreal experiences that remain brilliantly stored in my memory to this day.

Erik Donald France said...

Hey, thanks all for the comments ~~ much appreciated. Good beans, and magic, too!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Once upon a time, orange made me happy. Now it makes me tense. I wonder if colors perception changes over time.

Anonymous said...

Erik don't say it enough but I read your blog as often as possible and the bit you did on the Velvet Underground was fantastic. Brought back memories of the MC5, "Free John Sinclaire", and the White Panther Party from the Eastown Theater to the Grande Ballroom. Well done. MW

Adorably Dead said...

I can't seem to seperate my emotions from my memories. I think that's one of the reasons I hold grudges so often and it takes me a while to get over things. That and I have no concept of time. :p

Erik Donald France said...

Thanks to the second round of commenters, too -- merci, merci, merci.