Are Emotions Natural Kinds?

  title={Are Emotions Natural Kinds?},
  author={Lisa Feldman Barrett},
  journal={Perspectives on Psychological Science},
  pages={28 - 58}
  • L. F. Barrett
  • Published 1 March 2006
  • Psychology, Medicine
  • Perspectives on Psychological Science
Laypeople and scientists alike believe that they know anger, or sadness, or fear, when they see it. These emotions and a few others are presumed to have specific causal mechanisms in the brain and properties that are observable (on the face, in the voice, in the body, or in experience)—that is, they are assumed to be natural kinds. If a given emotion is a natural kind and can be identified objectively, then it is possible to make discoveries about that emotion. Indeed, the scientific study of… 
Core Affect and Natural Affective Kinds
It is commonly assumed that the scientific study of emotions should focus on discrete categories such as fear, anger, sadness, joy, disgust, shame, guilt, and so on. This view has recently been
Emotions are real.
It is proposed that physical changes in the face, voice, and body, or neural circuits for behavioral adaptations like freezing, fleeing, or fighting, transform into an emotion when those changes take on psychological functions that they cannot perform by their physical nature alone.
Do people essentialize emotions? Individual differences in emotion essentialism and emotional experience.
It is predicted and found that individuals who hold essentialist beliefs about emotions describe themselves as experiencing highly differentiated emotional experiences but do not show evidence of stronger emotional differentiation in their momentary ratings of experience in everyday life.
Emotion, Perception, and Natural Kinds
The question addressed in this paper is whether particular emotional experiences or episodes of an emotion (such as two experiences of happiness) belong to a natural kind. The final answer to this
The hallmark of psychology as an empirical science is the reliance on empirical data to support its claims. As traditionally conceived in philosophy and psychology (see, e.g., Brentano, 1874; Wundt,
Feelings: What Are They & How Does the Brain Make Them?
Traditionally, we define “emotions” as feelings and “feelings” as conscious experiences. Conscious experiences are not readily studied in animals. However, animal research is essential to
What Basic Emotions Really Are: Encapsulated or Integrated?
While there is ongoing debate about the existence of basic emotions (BEs) and about their status as natural kinds, these debates usually carry on under the assumption that BEs are encapsulated from
I The Conceptual Act Theory A Roadmap
0 ver many centuries, philosophers and psychologists have assumed that the mind is structured as a typology, containing Platonic emotional types such as anger, sadness, fear, and so forth. Emotions
Understanding Human Emotions
The simple distinction between negative and positive emotions does not add very much to the understanding of the nature of human emotions. One type of pleasure is not similar to another. One type of
Is Core Affect a Natural Kind
In the scientific study of the emotions the goal is to find natural kinds. That is, to find categories about which interesting scientific generalizations and predictions can be formed. Core affect is


Is Emotion a Natural Kind
In What Emotions Really Are: The problem of psychological categories I argued that it is unlikely that all the psychological states and processes that fall under the vernacular category of emotion
The Natural Kind Status of Emotion
It has been argued recently that some basic emotions should be considered natural kinds. This is different from the question whether as a class emotions form a natural kind; that is, whether emotion
Solving the Emotion Paradox: Categorization and the Experience of Emotion
  • L. F. Barrett
  • Psychology, Medicine
    Personality and social psychology review : an official journal of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc
  • 2006
In this article, I introduce an emotion paradox: People believe that they know an emotion when they see it, and as a consequence assume that emotions are discrete events that can be recognized with
Basic emotions, rationality, and folk theory
Abstract Answering the question of whether there are basic emotions requires considering the functions of emotions. We propose that just a few emotions are basic and that they have functions in
What Facial Activity Can and Cannot Tell us About Emotions
The belief that facial activity is linked to emotional states has a long history in science and in popular belief. In particular, the 1872 publication of Charles Darwin’s book The expression of the
What's basic about basic emotions?
The view that there exist basic emotions out of which all other emotions are built, and in terms of which they can be explained, is questioned, raising the possibility that this position is an article of faith rather than an empirically or theoretically defensible basis for the conduct of emotion research.
ABSTRACT Traditionally, the emotions have been viewed from a biological perspective; that is, the emotions have been seen as genetically determined and relatively invariable responses. The present
The Neuroscience of Emotions
It is hard to imagine a field as different from sociology as neuroscience. The differences in theory, method, tradition, and practice could readily breed antagonism between any two fields. However,
The language of emotions: An analysis of a semantic field
Abstract This paper uses a theory of the emotions to motivate a semantic analysis of English words referring to emotions. The theory assumes that emotions have a two-fold communicative function, both
What is emotion?
  • M. Cabanac
  • Medicine, Psychology
    Behavioural Processes
  • 2002
It is proposed here that emotion is any mental experience with high intensity and high hedonic content (pleasure/displeasure), as a follow-up to a definition of consciousness as a four-dimensional experience.