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HOME > PAST ISSUE > July-August 2001 > Article Detail

FEATURE ARTICLE

The Nature of Emotions

Human emotions have deep evolutionary roots, a fact that may explain their complexity and provide tools for clinical practice

Robert Plutchik

Figure 1. Great egrets in breeding plumage . . .Click to Enlarge Image

What is an emotion? More than 90 definitions have been offered over the past century, and there are almost as many theories of emotion—not to mention a complex array of overlapping words in our languages to describe them. Plutchik offers an integrative theory based on evolutionary principles. Emotions are adaptive—in fact, they have a complexity born of a long evolutionary history—and although we conceive of emotions as feeling states, Robert Plutchik says the feeling state is part of a process involving both cognition and behavior and containing several feedback loops.


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