The challenges of researching emotions

20th Mar 2019

Brain and Neuroscience Advances HeaderEmotions are an important part of our daily lives, but how our brain creates these emotions is still not fully understood.

This article by Fox (2018) in ‘Brain and Neuroscience Advances’ discusses the challenges of research in affective neuroscience, an area involved in researching emotions.

One issue is that there is no clear definition of emotions, with the terms “mood”, “emotion” and “feeling” being used to describe similar concepts in research papers. This makes it difficult to compare different studies.

In this research area there is a strong division between two views as well:

  • The “natural-kind” view says that emotions are like action plans similar to reflexes that help us deal with different situations.
  • The “conceptual construction” view states that they are social constructs that help us understand information from our senses.

Research can therefore be carried out from one of these views, and may ignore findings that agree with the other view.

The article does state that it is possible to combine these views, which could be important for future research, as research into emotions is especially useful for understanding conditions where they start taking over someone’s life, such as in anxiety and depression.

To access the full article, click here

Fox, E., 2018. Perspectives from affective science on understanding the nature of emotion. Brain and Neuroscience Advances, 2

< Back to Media