Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Emotional Styles

Prefrontal cortex - implicated by research in emotional styles
Richard Davidson, a professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, reports research suggesting that humans have emotional styles, which are comprised of six different components.

  • Resilience, which is how quickly or slowly you recover from negative emotions. For example, some people can hold onto fears or grudges for years, while others may let things go after only a day.
  • Outlook, which is the duration of your positive emotions. For example, some people may experience positive feelings like joy to be very fleeting, while others tend to sustain these feelings much longer.
  • Context, which is the degree to which you modulate your emotional responses in a context-appropriate way. For example, you probably won’t talk to your boss about the same things as you would when you talk to your spouse or child. In the same way, we often modulate our emotional responses differently depending on the person we are talking to and the setting we are in.
  • Social Intuition, which is your sensitivity to social cues, including facial expressions and verbal expressions. This part of your emotional style refers to your ability to understand and empathize with other people’s emotional worlds.
  • Self Awareness, which is the extent to which you are aware of emotional signals within your own body and mind. The more aware you aware of your own emotions, the better you’ll be able to manage them. Most people respond to their emotions without ever stopping to reflect on them.
  • Attention, which is how focused or scattered your mind is. Are you able to focus your attention on one thing at a time, or do you find yourself being easily distracted? Davidson’s research shows attention plays a key role in emotional regulation.
He has brain scan results that show actions, especially in the prefrontal cortex, that correlate with subjects viewing images.

I am especially interested in his comment that he finds sections of the brain involved both in emotional style and decision making. He suggests that some decisions are made combining logic and emotion.

We think with our brains and not our minds. Emotions count.

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