Distress or sadness makes one responsive to one's own problems and to those of the world. It is the most frequently experienced negative emotion and also serves important biological and psychological functions. According to Tomkins, distress is a density-level affect, and occurs as a result of a continued excessive level of stimulation from such things as pain, cold, noise, heat, bright lights, loud noise, failure and loss.11...It can promote remedial strategies which can attack its source.12...Distress facilitates group cohesiveness whether it be with family, social groups or society.13...Distress also plays an important role in the evolution of intelligence by continually providing new challenges to overcome, which results in stimulated creativity, and often in the finding of novel solutions to new problems.
Anger can motivate destructive behavior, but can also prove adaptive as a source of strength and courage when it is necessary to defend personal integrity or loved ones.
Disgust helps motivate one to maintain personal and group standards, and good body hygiene.
Contempt can lead to prejudice and even cold-blooded killing, but can also provide a positive function for human preservation when directed against enemies of human welfare.
Fear provides motivation for avoiding dangerous situations.
Shame can produce feelings of ineptness and isolation, but shame-avoidance can foster self-corrective activities.14...Shame has also had a role in the evolutionary process. It sensitizes the individual to the opinions and feelings of others and facilitates a degree of social conformity and social responsibility. If properly dealt with, shame can play a positive role in self-development and self-improvement. Reflection on the shame experience can increase self-knowledge.15
Guilt can dominate and torment the mind, but the anticipation and avoidance of guilt can motivate an individual to develop personal and social responsibility.
Surprise acts to clear the nervous system of ongoing emotion and cognition so that an organism can respond to the sudden change it has experienced.16
The emotions system strongly influences both human and animal behavior by creating needs that require satisfaction. We all seek pleasure and attempt to avoid pain.
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