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Kendra Cherry

What Function Do Emotions Serve?

By November 28, 2012

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function of emotion

The huge range of emotions we experience on a regular basis can be a lot like riding a rolling coaster. One moment we are at a thrilling peak of happiness or excitement and just a short time later we might find ourselves languishing in the depths of boredom or sadness. We've talked before about some of the major theories of emotion, but exactly what purpose do emotions serve? What function does this roller-coaster of feelings play in our daily lives?

When you are experiencing a powerful emotion, whether its anger, elation, or loneliness, have you ever stopped to wonder, "Why do I feel this way?" While you might be able to pinpoint the underlying cause of an emotion, such as irritation with a co-worker or a sense of isolation, you might not spend as much time thinking about the purpose that the particular emotion might serve.

Researchers have suggested that emotions play a wide number of roles. They help us avoid danger, make friends, and take stock of our lives. Perhaps most importantly, they motivate us to take action. When you feel angry at a fellow co-worker or peer, you might be inspired to discuss your feelings with the other person. If you are feeling lonely, you might be driven to go out and seek new social connections.

Curious to discover more about how our emotions help us survive, thrive, and interact with others? Learn more in this article on the purpose of emotions.

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