In 21S at 2, Mark Thornton
Emotions define human experience. When you ask someone how they are, they tell you how they are feeling. We formulate our life goals in terms of emotions, striving to obtain happiness, while avoiding regret. Emotions such as love, pride, contempt, and shame shape our social relationships, both as individuals and as groups. When our emotions go badly awry, we suffer debilitating mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. Although emotions play a central role in our lives, studying them scientifically presents profound challenges. They seem intuitively hidden, elusive, messy, and hard to evoke or quantify in a laboratory. Despite these challenges, researchers have developed a thriving science of our emotional lives, which you will learn about in this course. We will begin by considering the origins of emotion, both biological and cultural. Subsequently we will examine how emotions manifest themselves in our bodies and brains, change dynamically over time, shape our social interactions, influence our cognition, and affect our mental health. Finally, we will consider ongoing theoretical debates in emotion science, and where the field could and should go next.
Prerequisite: PSYC 1 or PSYC 6.