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- Publié sur Amazon.com
Everyone has an understanding of emotion, but few people agree on what the word really means. For example, how is 'emotion' differentiated from 'feeling'? Are emotion and logic independent? This book should help you explore these questions.
Ekman starts with arguments for the universality of emotional display. All humans produce the same facial displays when engaged in a moment of anger or sadness. Reactive displays are generally 'honest' but fleeting. All socially adept humans have learned to disguise their emotional displays. Sometimes a high-speed camera is required to capture and 'freeze' the initial 'true' display. Given the difficulty of 'real time' determination of an emotional display's meaning, Ekman standardizes his approach on a suitably literal plane. For example, the raise eyebrow means 'X' in 'Y' percent of the population, but only 'Z' percent recognize it.
Here is an outline of characteristics Ekman uses to define emotions:
1. Emotions are experienced as feelings, a set of sensations that we experience and often are aware of.
2. An emotional episode can be brief (less than a second to several seconds). If it is longer, it is a mood
3. It is about something that matters to the person
4. We experience them as happening to us, they are not chosen.
5. We are constantly scanning our environment. Emotional responses are automatic reactions to these perceptions. In this sense, emotions are an 'early warning system'.
6. Refractory periods exist after the emotional response. During this refractory period, only perceptions that supports the emotional response is considered.
7. The refractory period may last a few minutes or much longer
8. We generally become aware of an emotion only after our attention begins to review it in the past tense.
9. There are universal emotional themes. We become emotional about matters that were relevant to our ancestors as well as ones we have found to matter in our own lives.
10. The desire to experience or not experience an emotion motivates much of behavior.
11. An efficient signal, clear, rapid and universal, informs those that witness the display. The knowledge gained makes social cooperation possible.
All of this background information takes up the first 4 chapters. Many readers will find this an unnecessary delay. Much of this material seems to wander about in politically correct debates about 'why we can't all be nice', or 'can education ban anger?'.
Many will find this clueless and banal, but there is a lot of useful material mixed in. Take the time to suffer through it.
The curious hand ringing over the 'value' of anger is a testimony to stifling academic conformity on US colleges. Ekman is arguing there is a genetic componet to emotional IQ. The thesis is politically incorrect and sure to ruin a promising academic career. I decided the author had to demonstrate his touchy-feely sensitivity so the academic 'children are blank slates' mob wouldn't hang him.
Finally, on page 97, almost half way through the book, we get to the material most readers were looking for when they pulled the book off the shelf: reading emotional states from facial expression: The first lesson is on 'Sadness and agony.' The following chapter addresses 'Anger.' In all, Ekman describes 6 emotions:
1. Grief, sadness
4. Contentment, Enjoyment, sensory pleasures:
6. Disgust, contempt
Ekman apologizes for avoiding any discussion of
2. Guilt, shame and embarrassment.
While exploring these emotions, Ekman uses the following format:
1. A general description of the emotion
2. A paragraph or two inviting the reader to 'make the face as a method of experiencing the emotion)
3. A longer section, with photos and discussion of muscular mechanics, suggesting ways to recognize the facial displays associated with the emotion.
4. A page or two on using the skill. This is always a description of an interaction with a boss. I didn't find these very useful.
There seems to be a fundamental distinction between sadness and anger, one drives out the other. Most people have heard of the 'fight/flight' dichotomy, but it turns out fight/flight emotions are very easily represented in the face simultaneously. Sadness-Anger is a more telling distinction. They don't coexist simultaneously. One's emotions can swing from sadness to anger, and back, sometimes fairly quickly, but they don't show up on the face at the same time.
The stark differences between the two, combined with the universality of expression, suggest expression and emotion are inextricably linked. The author suggests making the expression of anger and/or sadness because making the expression produced the experience of that emotion. Combine this with the fact that anger begets anger (both in the emotional individual and those that observe the sign) and sadness begets sadness and ultimately depression, and one can see that not only is the 'expression' the emotion, but the expression can drive the emotion. Additionally, we respond entirely differently to sadness and anger. When we see an expression of sadness, almost all are moved to comfort the sad individual. This feeling is so strong that just looking at a photograph of a sad individual, particularly a familiar individual, elicits strong experiences of sadness in oneself. When anger is expressed 'in the flesh', we may become enraged ourselves. On the other hand, a photograph of rage rarely elicits rage all by itself. For example, you can go to a tearjerker at the theatre and expect 50% of the crowd to be awash in tears. A still photo of rage almost never elicits rage. The viewer must know the individual's context in great detail to respond with rage. On the other hand, people can be talked into rage (see mob behavior) with relatively little difficulty.