You’re So Hot Headed: Yes, You Can Actually Feel Emotions
Some of the physiological shifts that occur in our bodies are so small that we can’t consciously point them out, but when it comes to our emotions it’s a different story.
We feel emotions pretty strongly a lot of the time, and some researchers have now created a body atlas that showcases exactly where in the body we’re feeling them. Of course, you might already be aware of some of this. Phrases like getting “hot headed” seemingly exist for a reason.
The study that mapped this used over 700 participants from Finland, Sweden, and Taiwan; the data was intentionally gathered from people from different countries and languages to rule out any cultural correlations. The participants were asked to view videos, look at facial expressions, and take in stories that focused on different emotions. They were then asked to point out areas of their body that felt different after these experiences. They answered by coloring in areas of the body on computer generated silhouettes.
From the consistent data that they gathered from the participants, the researchers determined that:
Each emotion has its own distinct mapping on the body.
(Although similar emotional responses overlap in some parts.) Most of it is exactly what you would expect.
- Pride lights up the head and chest area, giving weight to the saying about “puffing the chest up with pride”
- Pride looks pretty similar to the sensations reported for anger, except that anger lit up the hands and head as well, which is perhaps why we ball up our fists when we’re furious? Plus, this gives “hot headed” new meaning
- Fear and disgust look somewhat similar to the two emotions below, but with less energy in the arms and more of it in the midsection. If you’ve ever had stage fright or been beside yourself over someone else’s bad behavior you know how hard it can hit the stomach
- Love actually looks pretty similar in the upper areas of the body, except that it differs by extending to the groin area
- With depression, shame, sadness, and anxiety there was a drop of sensation reported in the legs and feet. How often have you heard of the above emotions being correlated with physical malaise and lethargy? All the time. Not to mention the saying that’s most used to explain running from the alter…”cold feet”
This information is relevant and interesting to all of us, but what’s really cool is that it might be able to help with identifying and treating emotional disorders in the future. Anyone with an interest in the more spiritual concepts of mind/body connection might already trust certain areas of their body to express things to them. We “trust our gut” when we’re checking in with our intuition, and focus on the heart center when giving and receiving love.
By the way, out of 14 emotions tested, happiness was the only one to increase sensations all over the body.
No wonder it feels so good to feel good.
Nummenmaa, abc1, Lauri, Enrico Glereana, and Riitta Harib1 And. “Lauri Nummenmaa.”Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. National Acad Sciences, n.d. Web. 02 May 2017.