How would a person evoke emotions

Emotions are limited in time, before and after the people are in a neutral or in another emotional state.

What is the reason that emotions such as joy, fear, etc. are triggered?

In terms of learning theory, this can be explained as follows: Triggers are stimuli and emotions are the reactions to these stimuli. These reactions can be very different, they vary from person to person. Completely different events can lead to the same emotional expression, just as one and the same event can be very different

Trigger emotions.

How emotions arise is a key question in emotional psychology.

There are essentially two variants for determining emotional behavior:

1. "natural" variations of living conditions:

Everyday events

Big events

Living and environmental conditions

2. "Artificial" variations of living conditions:

Test conditions

Knowledge of the triggers of emotions is important because, for many psychological questions, the emotional state of test subjects is changed under controlled conditions. However, conclusive statements about causal relationships between events and emotions can only be made in experiments.

Research results should always be viewed against the background of the method with which they were collected. The most important methods to research triggers of emotions in the open field are: Survey, free logging and standardized questionnaire.

During the survey, the interviewed person establishes a causal relationship between events or activities and emotions, but this also means relying on memories and subjective interpretations of the respective interviewed person.

CASON (1930) investigated annoyance and the emotional events in everyday life. He interviewed 659 people and received 2581 different mentions of occasions in a wide variety of areas. The answers mostly related to social, interpersonal interactions or characteristics. Examples of this were: "someone cheats while playing", "someone talks about illness all the time" or "the smell of dirty feet". Non-social triggers for emotional behavior were very rarely mentioned in this study.

SCHMIDT-ATZERT's criticism: This study is limited to one event per emotion, which means that the test subjects included particularly typical events.

Respondents may also have misconceptions about the real reasons for their feelings and altered memories may influence the information.

In three other studies by SCHERER et al. (1983), SHAVER, SCHWARTZ, et al. (1987) and WALLBOTT and SCHERER (1986) were asked about the events that trigger different emotions. The test subjects were asked to remember a situation in which a feeling given by the examination arose and to name the event that triggered this feeling.

A list of the results and situations most frequently mentioned in these three studies is shown in the table below:

The most frequently mentioned experiences and situations show that the interaction with other people is of essential importance for the emotional experience, because many situations arise only through dealing with other people.

If you want to keep a log of events or your state of health in everyday life, you can do so with

free logging or standardized questionnaire possible.

When the minutes are kept freely, the people describe the events of the day; sometimes this information is subsequently grouped into categories. However, the result of the investigation is largely determined by what the individual respondents understand by the term "event".

With standardized questionnaires, test persons tick in specially constructed lists which events they have experienced or which events have occurred. When evaluating the events, a distinction is essentially made between pleasant / desirable and unpleasant / undesirable, with negative emotions being represented by events of different severity and positive emotions being represented by events of differing pleasantness.

There are many, but very different studies on this. The "Hassles and Uplift Scales" by KANNER, COYNE, SCHAEFFER and LAZARUS (1981) is one of them. With the help of these lists, 117 unpleasant and 135 pleasant experiences were recorded, with item specifications such as: "Noise", "Receive a present", "Friendly neighbors", "Get enough sleep", "Be lonely".

In LEWINSOHN and GRAF (1973) the lists consisted of 160 items and 32 pleasant activities per day were determined.

STONE and NEALE (1984) used a list of 66 positive and negative events. The mean frequency of events was 5.3 per person per day.

REHM (1978) determined as many negative events per day and person with free logging as ECKENRODE (1984) did in one month. REHM also distinguished between pleasant and unpleasant events, then weighting was carried out according to valence (value): very unpleasant events were given great weight, less unpleasant events were given low weight. Nevertheless, there were no significant influences on the correlation between the number of events. Much more decisive for the feeling was the number of events than the fact that they were negative, for example. This was also confirmed in LEWINSOHN and LIBET (1972). In both studies, the information related to the previous day.

CSIKSZENTMIHALYI and WONG (1991) used an electronic pager every two hours to remind their subjects to fill out the questionnaire (this was possibly perceived as annoying!). They recorded the emotional experience relatively generously on a seven-point scale from "sad" to "happy".

In two studies (SCHMIDT-ATZERT, 1989; KANNER et al., 1981), students kept records of their positive and negative daily events for two weeks, and they also had to rate their condition on a bipolar valence scale. The results can be presented as a qualitative relationship between event and emotion: positive feelings such as joy were mainly experienced with friends, negative feelings such as sadness were mainly experienced when the students surveyed were alone (BRANDST√ĄTTER, 1991; CSIKSZENTMIHALYI & WONG, 1991) .

American and Italian teenagers were particularly happy with sports and games, but tended to be saddened by activities such as resting, studying, thinking, and doing

Watch TV. Japanese students recorded their health and events three times a day. They felt positive emotions in connection with social events such as parties, eating, drinking and exercise, and negative emotions in connection with, for example, arguments, relationship problems, health problems (CLARK and WATSON, 1988).

Other studies recorded the quantitative connections between positive and / or negative events or activities and the state of health in daily life, the frequency of positive or negative events.

The following table shows the different examination methods as well as the

Relationship between everyday events and well-being:

STONE (1987) used the short form of the mood questionnaire from NOWLIS for this measurement and calculated a total value for positive and negative well-being. Daily events were recorded with 80 items (Daily Life Experience Invory).

The average correlation was 0.34 for the frequency of desired events and associated positive emotions, for negative emotions a correlation of 0.29 was calculated, thus a low correlation between the daily well-being and the number of positive or negative daily events of the respondents.

The respondents felt all the worse if they had a lot of negative experiences; in the case of positive experiences, the respondents' emotional state was exactly the opposite:

The test subjects felt significantly better with more positive events.

However, the frequency of positive or negative experiences is not sufficient to explain the emotional state of a person. There is no guarantee that events, even if they occurred before the state of health was recorded, are responsible for the respective state of health, because the respondents can only remember the events very selectively, possibly depending on the state of mind, and the habitual state of mind may also determine the situations that we get involved in or that we avoid.

In addition to the events, LEWINSOHN and GRAF (1973) also examined the activities of their test subjects, see the previous table, possibly that is why happy people would seek contact with other happy people, but then this event would not be a trigger, but a consequence of their state of health ..

According to CSIKSZENTMIHALYI (1988), the emotional state can be changed in principle by any physical or mental activity, provided that the skills and interests of a person and the demands on this activity match. Some examples of this are studying, reading, and exercising. Light physical activity such as ten minutes of "walking" improves the well-being significantly (OTTO, 1991; THAYER, 1989).

Emotional well-being can also be changed by taking a wide variety of medications, luxury items, drugs, nicotine, etc. In these cases, changes in emotions such as reducing anxiety, lightening the mood, increasing wellbeing and even euphoric mood are triggered by the person themselves, in contrast to the "everyday triggers" discussed so far.

Situations with a naturally emotion-triggering character differ from this. These situations, such as exams, visits to the dentist, waiting in traffic jams, vaccinations for children, are essentially predictable, but they are difficult to avoid.

SMITH & ELLWORTH (1987) examined students in exam situations and their emotional perception. Before the exams, the students mostly had feelings of fear, but after the examination this fear had been greatly reduced, other emotional states such as joy or anger were now perceived more intensely. Not only exam situations, but also the picking up or receiving of performance records, such as certificates, had a strong emotional trigger.

Apart from the events of everyday life, the big events that trigger or change emotions constitute a group of their own. Examples of undesirable major events that hit many people at the same time are disasters, wars, crimes, the loss of a close relative, illness, accident, etc. Examples of desirable major events that hit other people at different times are Child birth, marriage, promotion. Many of these events are not brought about willfully by the respondent, nor are they triggered depending on their state of health.

These triggers of emotional behavior have hardly been investigated so far, the psychological effects especially long-term changes and the development of mental disorders have been more likely. The emotional reactions are very different. The consequences of disasters can depend on human behavior. The following phases of the disaster can be distinguished:

Phase 1: Warning (if possible)

Phase 2: Direct impact of the disaster

Phase 3: Assistance

Phase 4: Indirect effects of the disaster

GUTTMAN & LEVY (1983) were able to determine with an Israeli study that was carried out in June 1967 before the 6-day war in four large cities that the anticipation of major negative events can bring about greater changes in well-being than the events themselves. After all negative events, the mood improved very quickly or the condition normalized.

WORTMAN & SILVER (1987) interviewed accident victims and victims of violence in the 1st, 3rd and 8th week after the incident. It was mostly young people who had to expect permanent paralysis. While fear still dominated in the first week, fear became evident in the third week; anger and depression were significantly reduced. The respondents cited their social contacts, letters, calls and visits from friends as the reason for this clearly positive change in their state of health. It was found that the severity of the injury had no influence on the number of positive feelings. Even so, heavy losses have long-term emotional consequences. Big events often result in many smaller events, for example the death of a relative: funeral, formalities, visits, phone calls, moving to name just a few.

Victims of hostage-taking or rescue personnel after disaster operations can return to their everyday lives without physical or psychological damage, but in some cases strong emotional reactions can be observed later.

Living and environmental conditions also influence the emotional state

To find out whether there are connections between stable living conditions and emotions, MICHALOS (1991) asked 5116 students, including 39 countries, how happy they are.

The ascertained ranking of the areas of life preferences

for predicting happiness (MICHALOS, 1991):

  1. "Satisfaction with the life partner"
  2. "Self-esteem"
  3. "Finances"
  4. "Training"
  5. "Friendships"
  6. "Health"
  7. "Free time activities"
  8. "Housing conditions"
  9. "Family Relations"

MICHALOS also made a comparison between the different nationalities.

with a scale from 1 for "very unhappy" to 7 for "very happy". For German students, the well-being value was 4.97, so the respondents said they were quite happy and were above the overall average of 4.7.

In the MICHALOS study, it was not objective reasons such as the quality of the choice of partner or income but rather subjective satisfaction with these specific areas of life that represented happiness and were seen as important and worth striving for. Subjective assessment of satisfaction is therefore more closely related to well-being than objective assessment.

Climatic conditions such as the weather can also cause or trigger emotional changes. In a wellbeing study with Japanese students who recorded their emotional well-being and weather information every day for three months, CLARK & WATSON (1988) were unable to find any connection between the actual weather and the subjective well-being of the students. Other studies have shown an effect on well-being at high or low temperatures (ANDERSON, 1989). THAYER (1989) found that high humidity can have a negative effect on people's well-being.

In order to induce emotions in laboratory experiments, standardized methods are important; the implementation conditions must be specified, which emotions are used with them

how often the desired effect can be expected, how long it lasts, whether and to what extent the experiment is transparent to the study participants. Neutral control conditions should also be realizable if possible.

The following can be used to induce emotions:

Slides or pictures

are used to induce certain emotions. It is relatively easy to trigger negative feelings. It is much more difficult to induce positive feelings.

Examples of inducing negative emotions:

e.g. with medical recordings.

Examples of inducing positive emotions:

Recordings of young children or animals


No specific films are used and are also used in children.

Films have a wide range of emotional effects. Movies can trigger relatively strong emotions, which can also lead to long-lasting emotional changes.

The advantages of films are that they can be used well in groups, but also that they are "handy" to carry out physiological measurements, as the test subjects can be tested while sitting. Control conditions are also possible.

A major disadvantage of films is that with aversive films, the test subjects can evade the instructions or the film by closing their eyes or looking away.

HESSE, SPIES et al. (1992) examined the effects of various films and found that "Otto, the film" by Otto Waalkes is best suited to induce positive moods. The nuclear war film "The Day after" was particularly suitable for negative emotions.

Examples of inducing negative emotions:

Circumcision rituals of Australian tribes

Films of snakes were shown to students with snake phobia.

Smokers were shown operations on lung cancer patients.

Texts and audio samples

With texts or audio samples, it is quite possible to induce emotions through language alone, even without images. Texts are a very economical application of the induction method. However, it is difficult to check whether the test subjects read or listen to the text attentively.


Music is rarely used, but it has the great advantage that the intention to change one's state of mind is not immediately recognized. The effects on well-being are global, so far it has only been used for positive or negative moods.

Imagine situations

Imagining situations is relatively easy to do. One only needs to vividly imagine an emotion-inducing situation. The test subject sits relaxed on an armchair with his eyes closed; only a few minutes are necessary.

An advantage of this method is that any feeling can be easily induced, a disadvantage is that the goal can be divined.


Hypnosis is a well-suited method for positive and negative mood changes and has many uses. Feelings like anxiety, fear, strength, joy etc. are suggested. But it doesn't work for everyone.

Velten technology

This process was developed by VELTEN in 1968. Test subjects can put themselves in a happy or sad mood. For each condition you read 60 statements printed on cards, first softly, then aloud. This method requires the active participation of the test subjects. Examples of statements used are, for positive mood: for example "I feel amazingly good", "I am full of energy", for depressed mood: "I feel rather sluggish", "My parents never really tried to understand me", for neutral mood "the state of Israel was founded in 1948", "his favorite color is a deep forest green".

The Velten method is often used in research, but the number of items and the type of presentation vary.

A disadvantage is that for the test subjects the goal of the investigation - a change of mood - is transparent and does not remain hidden from them. It is possible that the observed effects were caused by the prompts alone.

Many changes of emotions are realized in the laboratory with the help of a number of possible situations:

Fear can be triggered by feigning defects and their consequences such as electric shocks or just announcing a free speech in front of an audience or through darkness, anger through criticism, shock through a shot, noise preferably through white noise.

Chemical substances are also used, taking ethical aspects into account, to change expressive behavior.

The aim of this work was to try to bring the triggering factors and the methods of emotional psychology closer to the viewer and to bring them closer to the viewer

Research direction to awaken something.


SCHMIDT-ATZERT, Lothar (1996). Emotional Psychology Textbook

Stuttgart; Berlin; CologneMunich: W. Kohlhammer