Component of Emotions

Emotions can be viewed as having five components.

  • Affective – It refers to conscious and subjective feeling. Individuals monitor their internal felt states and recognise what they are feeling.
  • Cognitive – It involves describing or assigning meaning to the emotion. Thus, thinking about a feeling is very different from the actual feeling.
  • Physiological – It refers to bodily reactions such as palms sweating upon feeling anxious.
  • Motivational – It refers to specific actions that the individual takes that may be voluntary or involuntary.
  • Expressive – It refers to displaying emotions through facial expressions such as smiling, crying etc.


Let’s see the interplay of these components

Consider the following scenario – Your boss shouts at you in response to a recent report that you submitted to him, which he says contained several errors and was not satisfactory.

As he shouts, you can feel that the palms of your hands are becoming sweaty and increasing heartbeat – Physiological reaction to the stimulus that you has just experienced. You are thinking “What if I lose my job?”, “He is humiliating you in front of others” or “your work is not valued” – Cognitive response.

As your face turns red and your eyes tear up to express distress – Expressive response at work. Simultaneously, you are feeling shame and anxiety as affect – Affective response at play , giving rise to the motivation or action urge to walk out of the office – Motivational response at work.