Understanding Emotions Without Language

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This article is about a recent study
that provides new evidence that emotional signals are not understood through the words used in a certain language to desribe the emotion. But rather, like we discussed in lecture, "emotions have evolved from a set of basic human mechanisms," regardless if there's a word in one's language to describe it. Like we talked about in lecture , emotions are an universal and instinctive tool that promotes the survival of species. There's evidence that emotions are innate and provides adaptive value in both humans and animals. We talked about a study done asking people from new Guinea and the US to identify photos of people making varies facial expressions. In general people across cultures, ages, and genders can correctly identify happiness, sadness, anger, fear, disgust, and surprise. What's different about this study is, what if there wasn't a word in a language to desribe a certian emotion. Does that emotion end up lost in translation? This recent study provides insight that it does not. Two photos were shown to native Yucatec Maya speakers, one of anger and oen of disgust. In the Yucatec Mayan language, the words for anger and disgust are interchangeable. So when presented with the two photos, Yucatec Maya speakers identified the emotions with the same word. However, when shown a picture of someone with mixed emotions (in this case anger and disgust) and then pictures of people with only one emotion, they were able to identify the difference between anger and disgust without the use of words. This study proves that people are not socialized through language to understand emotion. Rather, like mentioned many times, there's a innate classifcation of emotions within us we can dig into regardless if there's a word for it or not.

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Nice connections between a new study and topics in class.

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This page contains a single entry by liang212 published on November 20, 2011 4:14 PM.

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