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Understanding Emotions

Understanding Emotions

Emotions play a fascinating role in the human experience and make Emotion AI possible. But what exactly are emotions and what’s the best approach to understanding emotions?

Scientists might say that emotions are the mental states that arise in response to events or stimuli and can have accompanying physiological effects, such as increased heart rate, sweating, or crying. While emotions are natural to human beings, advancements in technology such as Emotion AI or emotion artificial intelligence are making it possible for machines to identify, generate, and even respond to emotions. 

How do emotions support Emotion AI?

Emotion AI measures emotions using a system called the facial action coding system or FACS. Created by Paul Ekman and Wally Friesen, FACS categorizes and identifies emotions by analyzing all the facial muscles as someone reacts to something. The emotions are captured via a webcam and put through the Emotion AI software for processing. 

The six primary emotions

While emotions are a natural and integral part of being human, Ekman identified primary emotions that are easily recognized by facial expressions and thus measurable through facial expression recognition built into Emotion AI:

  • Joy
  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Disgust
  • Fear
  • Surprise

FACS categorizes these primary emotions by measuring microexpressions in the face. These are called action units and Ekman discovered hundreds of combinations. Thankfully, Emotion AI can easily distinguish between these facial movements and categorize them as primary emotions using the action unit measurements. Emotion AI can reveal whether someone has positive or negative associations with a certain subject. 

>>YOU MIGHT LIKE: From Nudging to Emotions: Improving your Campaigns

Why does understanding emotions matter?

There is no conscious experience that is devoid of an emotional component. It is clear that without emotions we would not even be able to make simple decisions.

Understanding emotions can therefore lead to several benefits. For example, in marketing, some studies indicate that campaigns using emotional content can achieve twice the results of those using non-emotional content. This finding comes from an analysis by IPA dataBANK of 1,400 successful advertising case studies. We talk about this and more in our white paper

Emotions have a long history

Several researchers and psychologists have dedicated their entire careers to studying emotions. To name a few, Ekman as mentioned above theorized that emotions are universal. And then you have college professor, Robert Plutchik, who was a game changer in emotional interpretations. Or Dr. Donald Brown who challenged the field of anthropology with his theory of shared universal behavioral traits. 

And then, of course, you have other fields in the study of emotions, such as:

  1. Emotional intelligence or the ability to understand, manage, and express our emotions to better understand and respond to the emotions of others. 
  2. Mindfulness is the “…basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” (Mindful.org)
  3. Affective neuroscience covers how the brain processes emotions

Learn more about Emotion AI

Whether you want to learn more about the discoveries about emotions from Darwin to Ekman or want to learn about a certain term or concept, check out this Glossary of Emotion AI we put together. Want to see Emotion AI in action? Schedule a demo with the Emotiva team.


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