How do we study emotion and how do we even think about positive emotions? Why do we even have positive emotions? These questions and more are being investigated by June Gruber, and here she is talking about them:
I thought I’d first start briefly with a tale of positive emotion. It’s a really interesting state because in many ways it’s one of the most powerful things that evolution has built for us. If we look at early writings of Charles Darwin, he prominently features these feelings of love, admiration, laughter. So early on we see observations of them, and have some sense that they’re really critical for our survival, but when you look at the subsequent scientific study of emotion, it lagged far behind. Indeed, most of the research in human emotion really began with studying negative emotions, trying to build taxonomies, understand cognitive appraisals, physiological signatures, and things like anger, and fear, and disgust. For good reason, we wanted to understand human suffering and hopefully try to ameliorate it.June Gruber is Assistant Professor of Psychology, Director, Positive Emotion & Psychopatology Lab, Yale University.