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Lisa Feldman Barrett: Emotions are Made

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Lisa Feldman Barrett: Emotions are Made

  1. 1. The theory of constructed emotion: - Your brain continually predicts and simulates all the sensory inputs from inside and outside your body, so it understands what they mean and what to do about them. - These predictions travel through your cortex, cascading from the body-budgeting circuitry in your interoceptive network to your primary sensory cortices, to create distributed, brain-wide simulations, each of which is an instance of a concept. - The simulation that’s closest to your actual situation is the winner that becomes your experience, and if it’s an instance of an emotion concept, then you experience emotion. - A group of people agrees that a concept exists. This shared knowledge is called collective intentionality. - The combination of language and collective intentionality build on one another in complex ways and allows people to categorize cooperatively, which is the basis of communication and social influence. - This is how brains, bodies, and societies create reality. This is also how emotions become real.
  2. 2. “I’m not the first person to propose that emotions are made. The theory of constructed emotion belongs to a broader scientific tradition called construction, which holds that your experiences and behaviors are created in the moment by biological processes within your brain and body.” “A constructionist approach to emotion has a couple of core ideas. One idea is that an emotion category such as anger or disgust does not have a fingerprint. Variation is the norm.”
  3. 3. “Your familiar emotion concepts are built-in only because you grew up in a particular social context where those emotion concepts are meaningful and useful, and your brain applies them outside your awareness to construct your experiences. Heart rate changes are inevitable; their emotional meaning is not. Other cultures can and do make other kinds of meaning from the same sensory input.”
  4. 4. “The theory of constructed emotion incorporates elements from: - Social construction, it acknowledges the importance of culture and concepts - Psychological construction, it considers emotions to be constructed by core systems in the brain and body - Neuroconstruction, it adopts the idea that experience wires the brain.”
  5. 5. https://wallhere.com/en/wallpaper/1758247
  6. 6. “After conducting hundreds of experiments in my lab, and reviewing thousands more by other researchers, I’ve come to a profoundly unintuitive conclusion: Emotions do not shine forth from the face nor from the maelstrom of your body’s inner core. They don’t issue from a specific part of the brain. Our emotions aren’t built-in, waiting to be revealed. They are made. By us. We don’t recognize emotions or identify emotions: we construct our own emotional experiences, and our perceptions of others’ emotions, on the spot, as needed, through a complex interplay of systems. ”
  7. 7. Interoception is your brain’s representation of all sensations from your internal organs and tissues, the hormones in your blood, and your immune system. This interoceptive activity produces the spectrum of basic feeling from pleasant to unpleasant, from calm to jittery, and even completely neutral. Usually, you experience interoception only in general terms: those simple feelings of pleasure, displeasure, arousal, or calmness that I mentioned earlier. Sometimes, however, you experience moments of intense interoceptive sensations as emotions. That is a key element of the theory of constructed emotion. In every waking moment, your brain gives your sensations meaning. Some of those sensations are interoceptive sensations, and the resulting meaning can be an instance of emotion.
  8. 8. The Nobel laureate Gerald M. Edelman called experiences “the remembered present.” An instance of a concept, as an entire brain state, is an anticipatory guess about how you should act in the present moment and what your sensations mean. This is the phenomenon of making meaning from the world and the body using concepts. In every waking moment, your brain uses past experience, organized as concepts, to guide your actions and give your sensations meaning. The concept cascade of predictions explains why an experience like happiness feels triggered rather than constructed. You’re simulating an instance of “Happiness” even before categorization is complete. Your brain is preparing to execute movements in your face and body before you feel any sense of agency for moving, and is predicting your sensory input before it arrives. So emotions seem to be “happening to” you, when in fact your brain is actively constructing the experience, held in check by the state of the world and your body.
  9. 9. A fast-beating heart has a physical function, such as getting enough oxygen to your limbs so you can run, but categorization allows it to become an emotional experience such as happiness or fear, giving it additional meaning and functions understood within your culture. Emotions are meaning. They explain your interoceptive changes and corresponding affective feelings, in relation to the situation. They are a prescription for action. The brain systems that implement concepts, such as the interoceptive network and the control network, are the biology of meaning-making.
  10. 10. “The seeds of emotion are planted in infancy, as you hear an emotion word (say, “annoyed”) over and over in highly varied situations. The word “annoyed” holds this population of diverse instances together as a concept, “Annoyance.” The word invites you to search for the features that the instances have in common, even if those similarities exist only in other people’s minds. Once you have this concept established in your conceptual system, you can construct instances of “Annoyance” in the presence of highly variable sensory input. If the focus of your attention is on yourself during categorization, then you construct an experience of annoyance. If your attention is on another person, you construct a perception of annoyance. And in each case, your concepts regulate your body budget.” http://www.livestrong.com/article/530878-why-a-toddler-is-nervous-and-covers-the-ears/
  11. 11. “Is an apple red?” The common-sense answer is yes, the apple is red. The scientific answer, however, is no. “Red” is not a color contained in an object. It is an experience involving reflected light, a human eye, and a human brain (and a human society). For the brain to convert a visual sensation into the experience of red, it must possess the concept “Red.” This concept can come from prior experience with apples, roses, and other objects you perceive as red, or from learning about red from other people. Emotions are real, but real in the same manner of the sound of a tree falling, the experience of red, and the distinctions between flowers and weeds. They are all constructed in the brain of a perceiver.
  12. 12. This brings us to one of the most challenging ideas in this book: you need an emotion concept in order to experience or perceive the associated emotion. It’s a requirement. Without a concept for “Fear,” you cannot experience fear. Without a concept for “Sadness,” you cannot perceive sadness in another person. You could learn the necessary concept, or you could construct it in the moment through conceptual combination, but your brain must be able to make that concept and predict with it. Otherwise, you will be experientially blind to that emotion.
  13. 13. “You cannot experience saudade with all of its cultural meaning, appropriate actions, and other functions of emotion unless you have the concept Saudade. - a strong, spiritual longing”
  14. 14. Your muscle movements and bodily changes become functional as instances of emotion only when you categorize them that way, giving them new functions as experiences and perceptions. Without emotion concepts, these new functions don’t exist. Emotions become real to us through two human capabilities that are prerequisites for social reality. - First, you need a group of people to agree that a concept exists, such as “Flower” or “Cash” or “Happiness.” This shared knowledge is called collective intentionality. - The second prerequisite for social reality: language. The combination of language and collective intentionality build on one another in complex ways and allows people to categorize cooperatively, which is the basis of communication and social influence.
  15. 15. It is commonly assumed that a person’s emotional state can be readily inferred from his or her facial movements, typically called emotional expressions or facial expressions. Yet how people communicate anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise varies substantially across cultures, situations, and even across people within a single situation. Furthermore, similar configurations of facial movements variably express instances of more than one emotion category. In fact, a given configuration of facial movements, such as a scowl, often communicates something other than an emotional state. We make specific research recommendations that will yield a more valid picture of how people move their faces to express emotions and how they infer emotional meaning from facial movements in situations of everyday life.
  16. 16. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/sep/24/matt-bevin-kentucky-governor-greta-thunberg-remark/
  17. 17. In our review of the scientific evidence, we test two hypotheses that arise from the common view of emotional expressions: a) that certain emotion categories are each routinely expressed by a unique facial configuration b) that people can reliably infer someone else’s emotional state from a set of facial movements.
  18. 18. Example figures from recently published articles that reinforce the common belief in prototypic facial expressions of emotion.
  19. 19. There are two crucial questions about generalizability when it comes to the production and perception of emotional expressions: 1.Do the findings from a laboratory experiment generalize to observations in the real world? 2.Do the findings from studies that sample participants from Westernized, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic (WEIRD) populations generalize to people who live in small-scale remote communities?
  20. 20. https://deadline.com/2019/12/robert-de-niro-sag-life-achievement-award-winner-1202784165/
  21. 21. We are not suggesting that facial movements are meaningless and devoid of information. Instead, the data suggest that the meaning of any set of facial movements may be much more variable and context-dependent than hypothesized by the common view.
  22. 22. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001429/mediaviewer/rm165349888
  23. 23. The scientific findings we have reviewed thus far —dealing with how people actually move their faces during emotional events— does not strongly support the common view that people reliably and specifically express instances of emotion categories with spontaneous facial configurations. Adults around the world, infants and children, and congenitally blind individuals all show much more variability than commonly hypothesized.
  24. 24. Studies of posed expressions further suggest that people believe that particular facial movements express particular emotions more reliably and specifically than is warranted by the scientific evidence. https://bogolovan.com/emotional-expression-or-how-open-are-you-in-expressing-your-feelings/
  25. 25. https://www.newsweek.com/dont-blame-obama-syria-catastrophic-war-428781
  26. 26. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/25/opinion/campaign-stops/the-obama-theory-of-trump.html
  27. 27. https://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2112461/latest-xi-jinping-book-gives-clues-decline-communist
  28. 28. Consequently, it is misleading to refer to facial movements with commonly used phrases such as “emotional facial expression,” “emotional expression” or “emotional display.” More neutral phrases that assume less, such as “facial configuration” or “pattern of facial movements” or even “facial actions,” are more scientifically accurate and should be used instead. https://howwegettonext.com/silicon-valley-thinks-everyone-feels-the-same-six-emotions-38354a0ef3d7
  29. 29. We next turn our attention to the question of whether people reliably and specifically infer certain emotions from certain patterns of facial movements, shifting our focus from studies of production to studies of perception. https://www.hollywood.com/tv/fan-theory-recap-that-pesky-fly-in-westworld-60668320/
  30. 30. Hundreds of experiments have asked participants to infer the emotional meaning of posed, exaggerated facial configurations by choosing a single emotion word from a small number of options offered by scientists. This severely limits the possibility of observing evidence that can disconfirm the common view of emotional expressions, however, because they restrict participants’ options for inferring the psychological meaning of facial configurations by offering them a limited set of emotion labels.
  31. 31. Three key shortcomings in the scientific research that have contributed to a general misunderstanding about how emotions are expressed and perceived in facial movements and that limit the translation of this scientific evidence for other uses: 1. Limited reliability: instances of the same emotion category are neither reliably expressed through nor perceived from a common set of facial movements 2. Lack of specificity: there is no unique mapping between a configuration of facial movements and instances of an emotion category 3. Limited generalizability: the effects of context and culture have not been sufficiently documented and accounted for
  32. 32. These research findings do not imply that people move their faces randomly or that facial configurations have no psychological meaning. Instead, they reveal that: Facial configurations are not “fingerprints” or diagnostic displays that reliably and specifically signal particular emotional states regardless of context, person, and culture. It is not possible to confidently infer happiness from a smile, anger from a scowl, or sadness from a frown, as much of current technology tries to do when applying what are mistakenly believed to be the scientific facts.
  33. 33. When facial movements do express emotional states, they are considerably more variable and dependent on context than the common view allows. https://filmschoolrejects.com/westworld-kiksuya-review/
  34. 34. There appear to be many-to-many mappings between facial configurations and emotion categories https://sweetnessonmovingimages.home.blog/2019/11/27/right-and-wrong-watchmen-this-extraordinary-being/
  35. 35. Recent evidence suggests that people’s categories for emotions are flexible and responsive to the types and frequencies of facial movements to which they are exposed in their environments. Western gestures, symbols or stereotypes fail to capture the rich variety with which people spontaneously move their faces to express emotions in everyday life. A stereotype is not a prototype: a prototype is the most frequent or typical instance of a category, whereas a stereotype is an oversimplified belief that is taken as more applicable than it actually is.
  36. 36. Presently, many consumers of emotion research assume that certain questions about emotional expressions have been answered satisfactorily when in fact this is not the case.
  37. 37. Our review of the scientific evidence indicates that very little is known about how and why certain facial movements express instances of emotion, particularly at a level of detail sufficient for such conclusions to be used in important, real-world applications.