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The Importance of Regulating Our Emotions, Research Paper Example

Pages: 9

Words: 2581

Research Paper

Introduction

Human beings have been and are emotional beings. We are a species mainly controlled by our emotions. Our emotions influence a huge part of our lives, such as making decisions and making other judgments such as moral considerations (Heilman & Crisan, 2010). The emotions range from being peaceful to being extremely violent (Sebastian & Ahmed, 2015). It all depends on how an individual is focusing on them. The emotional part of our human nature differentiates us from other animal species. The emotions can lead a human being to come up with extremely positive outcomes or extremely adverse outcomes depending on how these emotions are evoked (Sebastian & Ahmed, 2015). Our behavior, too, is greatly affected by our emotions (Gyurak et al., 2011). This is where this crucial topic of regulating emotions comes in because how the human response to the emotions is very critical. Aristotle poses the question of whether the human race can make these logical and rational decisions without the influence of our emotions. The current discussion thus focuses on the importance of this process. The emotions of human beings need to be regulated to maintain a balance in the outcomes made possible or triggered by the emotions that we have. Emotional control or regulation is involved in several processes, not just as a single process; these processes can be either implicit or explicit (Sebastian & Ahmed, 2015). Regulating human beings’ emotions is a significant undertaking regarding emotions.

Keywords: Emotions, emotional regulation, process, mind, brain, implicit, explicit, rational, influence, emotional, cognition, cognitive

The Connection between Aristotle’s Argument and My Thesis

Making decisions has been seen to be affected by the emotions the human species have. This has been seen to be so by researchers all through several studies done over the years. It has been established that emotions play a crucial role in our decision-making. Emotions have been understood to influence the subjective evaluations of different objective features. The process of regulating and/or controlling human emotions has affected the decisions that human beings make. Whether assimilated as good or bad alternatives, emotions have been discovered to play a progressive role and are crucial in making decisions (Heilman & Crisan, 2010).

From recent and numerous studies, the emotions such as high arousal, anger, and embarrassment are generally associated with impulsive decision making. Decision-making that is impulsive means that there has not been any consideration and/or thoughts rendered towards the outcomes of the particular incomes related to the action/decision at hand. A good example of this can be seen when someone acts irrationally and irresponsibly when they are angry (Prinz, 2021). For example, when the elders are correcting a teenager, they are usually associated with anger towards the elders. In this situation, the parent or the elder may be inclined to act out their anger by proclaiming heavy punishment to the child. Wrong or negative stimulus in terms of emotions influences how human makes their decisions (Prinz, 2021). It is also, as it is said, ’emotions clouding our judgments’.

On the other hand, good emotions such as happy feelings and love towards a person will mostly, 99% if not plus the one, influence someone’s view of their loved one and eventually influence their judgments on them. Take an example of a parent whose child has been accused of doing something wrong, probably in the school. The parent has not been there with the child in the school, but chances are the parent will be inclined to defend the child because of the love they have for them.

The foregoing examples and discussion point the baton towards the importance of regulating and/or controlling our emotions. In the first case, the first example, if the teenager, as well as the parent or the elder, could have control of their emotions, the resulting decisions are most likely to be good and rational (Prinz, 2021). On such occasions, other entities such as self-control are required in conjunction with emotion regulation/control. There has been research on the issue in the discussion by several people to show just how this process influences the decision-making process in a human.

Several studies, for instance by Greene and colleagues, have shown that Emotional influence on our decisions could lead to making the right decisions. These decisions are usually more reliable. However, these results have not been proven very reliable. Conclusions cannot, therefore, be drawn. Nevertheless, every study using neuro-imaging studies such as using MRI concludes that they always report cognitive involvement (Prinz, 2021).

The Explicit Emotional Regulation Process

Regulating emotions means that the process affects the way the emotions are displayed or expressed in terms of how intense they are, the length of the emotional experience, and the kind of the emotions (Gyurak et al., 2011). This process of regulating human emotions can be either implicit or explicit. Firstly, the explicit way. The explicit manner involves the application of efforts, unlike the implicit manner, which is automatic (Gyurak et al., 2011) (the explicit method is effort-oriented). To measure the unambiguous emotional regulation approach, a comparison criterion was employed. The study aimed to regulate human beings’ emotions from any outside intervention. The participants used different strategies. The researcher came up with the strategies. They were divided into two groups and given separate instructions concerning the ER strategy to use.

There were studies done by scientists focusing on the neuroimaging procedure. After this practice, the results showed that this type of emotional regulation process was practiced in a “dynamic interchange between frontal-lobe areas implicated in cognitive control and executive function, and emotion-reactivity areas” (Gyurak et al., 2011). In addition to this, the negative stimulus applied in the emotional response and regulation study indicates a rise in the activity in the part of the brain known as the ventrolateral and dorsolateral prefrontal context (Gyurak et al., 2011).

From this experiment, the tasks that were employed perfectly conform with the definition of regulating emotions in an explicit manner (Gyurak et al., 2011). This is because the people taking part in the research study test were aware of the explicit emotion regulation cues, and they were able to experience the emotions as they were being triggered in various ways. Additionally, they were observant of the regulation employed on their behavior (Gyurak et al., 2011). The study observed that emotional control affected how the participants perceived, judged, and decided on doing things.

An Overview of the Implicit Manner of Regulating Emotions

The implicit emotional regulation approach is the one that does not need constant and active supervision in the determination of the response after an emotional experience (Sebastian & Ahmed, 2015). There are no ways or baselines in which the automated occurrence of this kind of approach is compared to (Sebastian & Ahmed, 2015). This kind of approach is indexed by a contrast of the times taken to respond on the trials that are different which are preceded by other trials, for instance, incongruent trials in which the participant are expected to react or to respond to a particular stimulus (Sebastian & Ahmed, 2015). In such a test, a smiley face can describe sadness under the description, making it incongruent, and a sad emoji face can have a description saying ‘sad,’ which is congruent.

Connection of the Processes to the Human Brain Regions

From a neuroscience point of view, these approaches have been observed to be connected to several brain parts’ reactivities. Some brain regions become quite active after interaction or response to and with human emotions. For instance, studies investigating the “developmental differences in the neural processing of social rejection further suggest that prefrontal cortex regions involved in the process of regulating emotional distress undergo protracted development in adolescence” (Sebastian & Ahmed, 2015). The over-reactivation of the part of the human brain known as “the prefrontal cortex” from limbic structures which are relative to it result to a rise in the emotional reactivity or response “poor decision making and also a rise for the affective disorders” (Sebastian & Ahmed, 2015) which are connected to teenagers.

From the two approaches (Explicit and Implicit) for regulating human emotions, it is noteworthy to state that this topic is vital in the determination of the response from an emotional experience. In addition to this, there has been a connection to a different part of the brain when one experiences the different emotions as they are subjected differently. There is a well-set correlation between emotions and the brain (Prinz, 2021).

Sample Study Connecting Regulating Emotions with Decision Making

Several studies have been conducted and evaluated in the study of the involvement of the process of emotion regulation and/or control (Heilman & Crisan, 2010). One of the studies was developed to explore and examine the results of the process in discussion in a controlled environment which involved the induction of two negative emotions that is fear and anger. These two were induced by the effect of films and movies. The two involved emotions are negative and suggest that they should be tuned down effectively using the reappraisal technique rather than suppression (Heilman & Crisan, 2010). The two negative emotions have been seen to be different.

The people participating in the test were 56 women with an average age of 21.45 years from a nearby university campus (Heilman & Crisan, 2010). The participants completed a test for the positive and the negative affect scales. Sparing the details of the study, more by Heilman & Crisan (2010). The study revealed the truth of the matter in discussion. The state of their emotions affected the participants’ decision-making. Emotional regulation affected the way participants involved in the film study, experienced their emotions and how they acted.

Similar studies have been conducted to display similar results, cementing the idea that emotional control/regulation influences the process of making decisions. Emotional regulation is thus a subject of importance. Over and above the knowledge of the issue in discussion, it is worth understanding human emotions from a neurological point of view. The process, as well as the whole scope of emotions, are vitally connected to different brain regions (Sebastian & Ahmed, 2015). For instance, one study conducted on 35 adults revealed the emotional influence on our actions and decisions. Like most studies in this domain, magnetic imaging, that is MRI was used (Martin 2011).

A Neurological Understanding of Emotions

A panoramic connection of the human brain is vitally “involved in the detection, expression, and regulation of emotion” (Sebastian & Ahmed, 2015). There are different regions in the brain that have been much involved in emotion regulation and control (Sebastian & Ahmed, 2015). The research in this area has been made possible by using techniques in the neuroimaging field (Sebastian & Ahmed, 2015).

The amygdala. This part of the brain is connected to the prefrontal region of the human brain, enabled by the ‘Ventral’ and the ‘dorsal’ pathways (Sebastian & Ahmed, 2015). This part of the brain is also associated with the reward system as well as the connection or activation of the expressions applied after a stimulus, for instance, an angry face, a sad face, or a happy face (Sebastian & Ahmed, 2015). Studies have concluded that the amygdala is more responsive to stimulus prominence than its positivity or negativity (Sebastian & Ahmed, 2015). The amygdala alters automatic emotional evaluations in moral judgment. This neurological region is crucial during drawing moral conclusions and verdicts.

“The bed nucleus of the stria terminalis” (Sebastian & Ahmed, 2015). The “bed nucleus of the stria terminalis,” initialized as BNST, is the part of the brain that receives projections from the amygdala. Additionally, this region has been to be affected by stressful conditions. It is involved in body stress’s response, anxiety, and addiction (Avery & Blackford, 2016).

“The habenula” (Sebastian & Ahmed, 2015). The neuroimaging process has identified this brain area to be comprised of small nuclei, which are located above the “thalamus”. This part of the brain is hugely affected when someone has depression. From a depressive patient, the habenula is found to be reduced. This region is key for motivation and decision-making (Namboodiri et al., 2016).

Knowing what rational thinking means is also important. The rational process is interrelated to the emotional process.

Rational thinking

The way human beings use a logical approach in making decisions is how it is said that the person has used rational thinking. If the logical decisions made are the right ones, the idea of rational thinking plus reasoning has been perfectly applied. It covers the way we draw justifiable deductions from data, set of rules, or logic. Rational thinking is employed differently for different situations. For instance, one cannot use the same reasoning to buy groceries and follow the recipe procedure in cooking them (Willingham,2017).

However, in 2004, a study by Green and colleagues argue that rational processes can overrule emotional ones. The authors argue that in some situations, cold cognitive processes can trump emotional impulses. They concentrate on moral dilemmas that affect individuals. They propose, for example, that we explore a situation in which a person smothers a wailing baby to prevent killers from finding a group of people who are hiding, including the baby, rather than the pushing case, which triggers immediate judgments of immorality. Most individuals take quite a long time to respond to this question, and many of them conclude that suffocating the baby is acceptable (Prinz, 2021).

Nevertheless, they interpret this as demonstrating that cool cognition (which they identify with the dlPFC) can be utilized to moderate an emotional response (the horror of killing a newborn) and to render a cool decision that defies emotion’s dictates. However, this interpretation may be incorrect (Prinz, 2021). Cool cognition isn’t the exclusive function of the dlPFC. Furthermore, the fact that utilitarian decisions are related to higher dlPFC activity could simply reflect the reality that such decisions necessitate numerical processing, as both Greene and sentimentalists agree (Prinz, 2021).

Final Remarks

From the foregoing discussion, it is worthwhile to mention that the process of emotion controlling and/or regulating is essential in decision making. Together with this, the human species is known to apply rational thinking in their decision-making. This has made them distinct from the other human species. Moreover, there is a connection between emotional influence and decision-making (Sebastian & Ahmed, 2015). Moral judgment is also affected by ER. It can be deduced that it is also crucial to control human behavior effectively; better behavior from better emotions control and regulation means better relationships and interactions (Sebastian & Ahmed, 2015). Neuro-imaging studies have revealed that there exists cognitive intervention in all emotional processes. The Amygdala is associated with the reward system as well as the connection or activation of the expressions applied after a stimulus. BNST, is the part of the brain that receives projections from the amygdala It is involved in body stress’s response, anxiety, and addiction (Avery & Blackford, 2016). The cognitive region affected most by depression is the habenula.

References

Avery, S. N., Clauss, J. A., & Blackford, J. U. (2016). The Human BNST: Functional Role in Anxiety and Addiction. Neuropsychopharmacology: official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology41(1), 126–141. https://doi.org/10.1038/npp.2015.185

Gyurak .A. Gross.J.J. & Etkin.A. (2011). Explicit and Implicit Emotion: A Dual-Process Framework.

Heilman.R.M., & Crisan.G.L., (2010). Emotion Regulation and Decision Making Under Risk and Uncertainty.

Martin, L. N., & Delgado, M. R. (2011). The influence of emotion regulation on decision-making under risk. Journal of cognitive neuroscience, 23(9), 2569–2581. https://doi.org/10.1162/jocn.2011.21618

Namboodiri .K.M.V., Romaguera R.J., Stuber G.D. (2016). Current Biology: The Habenula.

Prinz .J. (2021). Is the Moral Brain Ever Dispassionate?

Sebastian. C.L. &.Ahmed.S. (2015). the Neurobiology of Emotion Regulation. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/271368398

Shenhav .A. & Greene .D.J. (2014). Integrative Moral judgment: Dissociation of the roles of the Amygdala and Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex. P4742-4748

Willingham. D. (2017). Scientific American. Can I learn to Think more rationally? https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/can-i-learn-to-think-more-rationally/

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