The Function and Role of Emotions

Do you know what part your emotions play in your life? Find out here.
The Function and Role of Emotions
Gema Sánchez Cuevas

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Gema Sánchez Cuevas.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Trying to define the concept of emotion is complicated. Indeed, like Wenger, Jones, and Jones said “Almost everybody thinks he understands what it means until he attempts to define it. Then practically no one claims to understand it”. In this article, we’ll discuss the role and function of emotions.

Emotions themselves are inherently innate physiological and behavioral processes. However, some can be acquired by observing the people around you. Three fundamental components are involved in these global responses:

  • Cognitive. The conscious or unconscious component. It’s based on the subjective assessment of an event.
  • Neurophysiological. These are totally involuntary. For example, they encompass emotions such as tremors or sweating.
  • Behavioral. They can be voluntary or involuntary. For instance, crying, tone of voice, or body movements.

The role of emotions

Emotions are important. In fact, according to Reeve (1994), they have three main functions:

  • Adaptive. Each has its own function. For example, fear protects and disgust rejects.
  • Motivational. They energize motivated behavior. Hence, it’s performed in a more vigorous and effective way.
  • Communicative. This encompasses intrapersonal and interpersonal communication. From the intrapersonal, you obtain your own information. On the other hand, in interpersonal communication, you pay attention to verbal and non-verbal communication. This influences the behavior of others.

In short, emotions are responses of both pleasant and unpleasant sensations that differ in intensity and duration. These sensations help you to face certain circumstances in your life with greater or lesser success. According to your experiences, your basic or innate emotions can be transformed into social emotions.  These are extremely important in your relationships.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.