Emotional IQ

Physiology

Experiencing any emotions or changes in one’s emotional state is always accompanied by both more and less evident physiological changes: increases or decreases of the heart rate (HR), blood pressure (BP), depth and frequency of breathing, electrical conduction of skin, etc.

The physiological component of an emotion is indicated by the activity of the sympathetic and parasympathetic areas of the automatic nervous system. Sympathetic emotions (vigorous emotions such as joy, anger) correspond to activity and energy consumption; parasympathetic emotions (sorrow, bliss) correspond to rest and energy storage.

Experiencing an emotion is accompanied by physiological shifts that must ensure the best bodily reaction to the environmental influence.

For instance, the emotion of fear is accompanied by physiological reactions that are similar to becoming immobile (becoming invisible, “playing dead” for the enemy) or running (to escape). When a student is worried about giving a public speech and is afraid of embarrassment the “seek safety” impulse is being activated. In the case of the “playing-dead” reaction, one may notice stupor, inability to talk, weakness, or trembling. In the case of the “running reaction”, one may notice increases in HR and BP, skin redness, etc.

However, through measuring or observing physical reactions, one may be able to define an emotion’s intensity, but not its sign of origin or modality.

Different emotions may be accompanied by the same physiological shifts. Increases in HR and BP may indicate either delight or anger. On the other hand, different people may experience similar emotions, but with different physiological changes.

Emotion Recognition

 

Recognizing the emotions of one’s partner through their body language is connected to the involuntary micro-reproduction of their mimicry. By feeling micro-contractions of one’s own facial muscles a person involuntarily evaluates what reactions they can be related with. The facial expression of a companion or someone who you are conversing with influences a person automatically; they may simply not realize their reaction and its cause.

Emotions and Studying

Neurophysiologists learned that if a person is experiencing emotions while studying, then besides the brain areas that are in charge of emotions (the brain limbic system), the frontal lobes, that are responsible for purposeful activity, programming, and self-control, become activated. Conversely, if a person isn’t experiencing any emotions while studying, the frontal lobes are not activated. Only certain brain areas that are responsible for the perception of information (visual, acoustic) are activated, which leads to the fragmentation and incoherence of the information learned. Emotional restraint slows down frontal lobe activity and, ironically enough, may lower the quality of the purposeful activity.

Emotions and Health

 

Continuous sorrow, anxiety, or depression often precede the rise of various somatic diseases and can cause other conditions to become more severe, while positive emotions may contribute to a faster recovery.