The Role of Emotions in the Life of the Individual - Happiness

Lacramioara Mocanu1

Abstract: In human beings, the experience of an emotion usually involves a set of perceptions, attitudes and beliefs about the world, which we use to assess a particular situation and thus influence how the situation is perceived. Emotion is the affective state we experience, a subjective reaction to the environment that is accompanied by organic changes (physiological and endocrine) of an innate origin, influenced by experience. Emotions have a function of adapting our body to everything that surrounds us. Emotions, being affective states, indicate personal internal states, motivations, desires, needs and even goals. In any case, it is difficult to say how the emotion will affect the future behavior of the individual, although it may help to cognitively adapt.

Keyworks: emotions; reactions; born-acquired; functions; affectivity; subject; intensity; behavior


Each individual experiences an emotion in a particular way, depending on their previous experiences, teaching, character and specific situation. Some of the physiological and behavioral reactions that activate emotions are innate, while others can be acquired.

Charles Darwin observed how animals (especially primates) have an extensive repertoire of emotions and that this way of expressing emotions has a social function, as they collaborate in the survival of species. They therefore have an adaptation function. There are 6 basic categories of emotions: fear (anticipation of a threat or danger that causes anxiety, uncertainty and insecurity), surprise (shock, amazement, consternation), aversion (displeasure, disgust, we usually depart from the subject that produces aversion in us), anger (anger, irritation, resentment, anger, irritability), joy (fun, euphoria, gratification, happiness, a feeling of comfort, security), sadness (feeling, loneliness, pessimism).

Emotion can be seen as a ‘complex response to the current situation’, which consists of the following components: cognitive, motivational, somatic, subjective, behavioral reactions.

- The objective component of emotions: it is in the very nature of the characteristics of emotions, it can assume that the situation in question triggers an emotion, but it is not a certainty that that emotion will surely trigger. The objective component refers to the situational history that the subject has crossed. Knowing that certain situations can trigger emotions helps us in anticipation of an affective reaction. Also, if we do not know other data on the individual’s previous reactions, we cannot deduce the kind of active reaction produced by the subject.

- Cognitive component of emotions: even the mere perception of an object can arouse automatic affective reactions of the individual. However, the more information the information is for the subject, the higher the intensities of automatic affective reactions will be.

- Subjective component: emotion is felt as an internal process, which is based on subjective, personalized experiences. Therefore, regardless of the degree of empathy we may have about a difficult situation in another’s life, his emotional experiences, as well as his subjective experiences, we will not be able to know them in their depth.

- Behavioral component: emotions can be externalized through several categories of behaviors.

They can be monitored by interpreting facial expressions, body posture, gestures or verbal level.

Daniel Goleman (2009) talks about the importance of emotional intelligence. Part of it is the ability to correctly interpret the other’s behavior in order to better understand the emotions they experience. Not all emotions are easy to read, but it seems that in the case of primary emotions this is possible.

- Somatic component: our body prepares, with the appearance of emotions, to react even by physiological manner, the reactions of the body. Schachter and Singer (1962) formulated the theory of the two factors of emotion, which states that emotion cannot be formed unless there is a physiological activation of the body, and subjective experience will be associated with a linguistic category. For example, the polygraph technique is used as a result of the existence of phenomena of physiological modification of the human body. In fact, it seeks the fear of not being discovered the lie, but not the lie itself.

- Motivational component of emotions: we can say that emotions, initially, will be perceived as reactions to certain situations faced by the individual, and subsequently turn into patterns of behavioral reactions. When emotion intervenes, the individual prepares to trigger a certain reaction. We can classify emotions into two main classes: fundamental or basic emotions and social or secondary emotions.

Fundamental Emotions

It is considered that there are a varied number of fundamental emotions, the number of them ranging from 2 to 11 emotions. Paul Ekman, who is considered the best-known expert in the study of emotions, believes that the number of these emotions can reach the figure of 15. Most authors converge to the figure of 6 emotions: anger/ fear/ disgust/ sadness/ joy/ surprise. The presence of an automatic event assessment mechanism that triggers the reaction is also observed. For example, if fear were to happen as hard as regret, then the person’s life could be put at risk by delaying the reaction (Ekman, 1982).

Social emotions: social emotions are totally dependent on the social and cultural experience of the individual. They necessarily involve social presence. These types of emotions are also characterized by a much more complex and varied cognitive component. Social emotions are harder to identify from the outside because they have varied expressive manifestations. The self or self is the central axis of our being, psychologically. Jessica Tracy and Richard Robins (2007) identify certain characteristics that are defining for emotions involving the self. The authors consider that the presence of cognitive or affective elements, such as self-awareness, cognitive representation of self, self-esteem, is necessary (Shaver, Schwartz, Kirson & O’Connor, 1987).

Psychological Perspective on Happiness

Happiness is a mental state of well-being, and is characterized by positive or pleasant emotions, which start from contentment to intense joy. There are different biological, psychological, religious and philosophical approaches that have strived to define happiness; observation of the causes of behavior was also followed.

Philosophers and religious thinkers often define happiness in terms of living a more flourishing or better life. Socratic happiness is life according to ethics and it’s not necessarily accompanied by positive emotions. Happiness is a state of intense and complete soul contentment; a deep state of mind also has an extended area of expression.

Present happiness is given by states very different from those of happiness from the past or the future and accepts two very different types of things: pleasures and moral rewards. Pleasures represent joys that have strong emotional components, being what philosophers call “raw sensations”: ecstasy, thrills, orgasm, delight, cheerfulness, exuberate and comfort. These are ephemeral and involve thinking to a small extent or not at all. By moral rewards I mean activities that we like very much, but they are not necessarily accompanied by gross sensations. Rather, they fully involve us, causing us to become completely concerned and absorbed by what we do, until we lose our self-awareness.

Enjoying a great conversation, climbing, reading a very good book, dancing and scoring a basketball point are all the examples of activities that make time seem to stop in place for us, so that our skills rise to the challenge, that the main talents we have all come out. Moral rewards last longer than pleasures, require thought and interpretation, require a period to teach you to taste them and are supported by our qualities and virtues.

Positive psychology aims to explain the meaning of happy and unhappy moments, as well as how they intertwine, the qualities and virtues they highlight, thus determining the quality of life of the individual. Because of the belief that we can rely on fireworks to have happiness, joy, delight, comfort and ecstasy, not that these feelings are due to us as a result of the exercise of personal qualities and virtues, there are a lot of people who, despite their wealth, are spiritually hungry. If there is no connection between character and positive emotions, they produce a sense of emptiness, a feeling of inauthenticity, lead to depression and, as we move on in age, to the destructive revelation that we will not find peace until death.

Only the positive feelings experienced as a result of the exercise of skills and virtues are authentic, not those resulting from an artifice. Optimistic people tend to interpret their troubles as fleeting, controllable and limited to a particular situation. On the other hand, the pessimist believe that their troubles are permanent, that they sabotage everything they do and cannot be controlled.


Corcos, Gilles & Vilder, Corinne (2019). How to develop your emotional intelligence. Bucharest: Litera Publishing House.

Goleman, Daniel (2018). Emotional Intelligence. Bucharest: Curtea Veche Publishing House.

Goleman Daniel (2014). Emotional Intelligence, the key to success in life. Bucharest: Libris Publishing House.

1 Senior Lecturer, PhD, Faculty of Communication and International Relations, Specialization Psychology, Danubius University of Galati Romania, Address: 3 Galați, Blvd. Romania, Tel.: +40372361102, Fax: +40372361290; Corresponding author:

New Trends in Psychology, Vol. 3, No. 1/2021, pp. 35-39