Explaining emotional contradictions

Posted on November 13, 2014

For example, the phrase “tears of joy” never made much sense to Yale psychologist Dr. Oriana Aragon. But after conducting a series of studies of such seemingly incongruous expressions, she now understands better why people cry when they are happy.

“People may be restoring emotional equilibrium with these expressions,” said Aragon, lead author of a study that will be published in the journal Psychological Science.

Aragon and her colleagues found that individuals who express negative reactions to positive news were able to moderate intense emotions more quickly.

There is also some evidence that strong negative feelings may provoke positive expressions. For example, nervous laughter appears when people are confronted with a difficult or frightening situations, and smiles have been found by other psychologists to occur during extreme sadness.

These insights advance our understanding of how people express and control their emotions, which is importantly related to mental and physical health, the quality of relationships with others, and even how well people work together.

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Source material from Psych Central