From ArticleWorld

There is no one definition of the word emotion. There is a clue in its origin, however, as it is made up of two Latin words – ex, which means outward and motio, which means movement or gesture. Many would define emotion as a feeling which usually occurs spontaneously and which is expressed physiologically and this would be supported by the etymology of the term.

The opposite of pure emotion would be pure logic and most of our reactions and perceptions are based somewhere on the continuum between the two. Whereas once it was considered that reason was the opposite of emotion, it is now accepted by most that many emotions are actually based on a response to something observed, which is a cognitive process. Which is not to say that emotions are always reasonable; on the contrary, there are many occasions when they are not welcome and, even worse, uncontrollable.

Physical responses

Examples of emotions which are expressed physiologically include shame which can be manifested by blushing and a warmth spreading through the upper chest and fear which leads to a rapid heartbeat and increased muscle tension. A restriction of the throat and eyes can accompany sadness and desire is manifested by heavy breathing.

Studying emotions

Darwin proposed that the expression of emotions is a natural process and so are similar across cultures. The Jamesian perspective, based on the work of William James in the 1800’s, theorises that emotional experience is mostly observable in the bodily changes that express it. The cognitive perspective maintains that thought and cognitive processing cause emotional processes while social constructivists emphasize culture and social conditioning in understanding emotions. Neurologists study emotion using neurophysiology and neuroanatomy.

Scientists research emotion from a behavioural, physiological, subjective and cognitive perspective.