Love | Fear | Happiness | AngerEmotional Development | Emotions in Culture | Embodied Emotion | Emotion Sources
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Emotion is defined by Webster's Dictionary as "a conscious mental reaction (as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body." Emotion is primarily controlled by the Limbic System in the brain. Emotion is essential to human survival; without emotion, individuals would not be able to make life changing decisions. Many psychologists believe that emotions are rooted in bodily changes, further demonstrating the significance of their role in survival. Emotions vary based on different animal species. The emotion of love is said to be unique to only mammals. More elaborate emotions in humans seem to stem from the cortex, more specifically the prefrontal cortex.
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Emotions are an incredibly powerful form of motivation. Throughout life and specifically before adulthood, the limbic system plays a significant role in major decision making. Emotions such as rage and fear can motivate someone as rational as a York student to commit acts that he or she would no doubt later regret. If anything is in charge of spur of the moment decision making, it is emotion.

There are three main theories concerning emotion and why we feel it. The first and simplest theory is the James-Lange Theory which was written independently by William James and Carl Lange. The theory stated that emotions were a response of our nervous system caused by the actions around us. The Cannon-Bard Theory was the challenging theory written by Walter Cannon and Philip Bard which stated that emotions are felt and then the body reacts to them. The theory asserted that changes in the nervous system were an effect of emotions, not a cause.

The commonly accepted theory today is the Two-Factor Theory written by Stanley Schachter and Jerome Singer. The theory draws from both the James-Lange Theory and the Cannon-Bard Theory, stating that emotions are caused by both an awareness of the situation by the mind and by some sort of physical change. The Two-Factor Theory is the most commonly accepted emotion theory today.