Emotions are a response to eliciting stimuli. The stimuli may be external (e.g. how we respond to a situation) or they may be in the form of memories or images. The trigger may be obvious but often emotional responses are triggered automatically with little conscious awareness.

Emotions are experienced in several ways:

  • 1- Affectively – which refers to the feeling rather than the thinking aspect
  • 2- Physiologically – in the body’s response, e.g. sweating, trembling, a dry mouth, increased heart rate.
  • 3- Cognitively – as feeling responses to such cognitive factors as personal beliefs and value systems, past experiences and prior knowledge.
  • 4- Behaviourally – in the outward expression of our feelings, e.g. laughing when we feel happy, acting aggressively when we feel angry.

All of these components of emotion may be experienced by a particular individual in response to a particular stimulus.