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Understanding Human Emotions

Consider the importance of emotions in the evolution of humans, with a deep dive into the crucial role of emotion in human survival and success.

Understanding Human Emotions is rated 4.0 out of 5 by 3.
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Rated 3 out of 5 by from My Emotion = Non-Plussed This course is a little more technical and a little less accessible than most courses in The Great Courses (TGC) repertoire. This is no touchy-feely course. Sometimes it seemed that the course was mostly a stream of citations of refereed scientific studies. I often felt that the pace was too intense to absorb. If you get distracted for a moment, you’ve probably missed one or more important concepts. Perhaps it would have helped to lengthen the course to 18 or even 24 lectures and to provide examples and analyses to help understand the concepts. The exception to the rule of scientific studies is the lecture on love. Here, he cites poets and playwrights rather than scientific treatises. However, even here, Dr. Reed provides an evolutionary (and implicitly genetic) explanation of love and does not address the possibility that love may be metaphysical. Ironically, for a course on emotions, Dr. Reed’s delivery is notably flat with little variation in tone, pitch, volume, or tempo. It’s almost monotonic. Dr. Reed is a below average speaker by The Great Courses standards. There are no significant visual aids. This course works perfectly well for audio while exercising or while driving a car. However, the intensity of the course makes it difficult to follow while multi-tasking.
Date published: 2021-11-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Pretty Deep Out of the four or five courses I have taken, this one just doesn't appeal to me in the manner the others did. I am only about half way through, and the urge to just cease watching it pops into my head during every lecture.
Date published: 2021-11-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Understanding Human Emotions This is a fabulous course. Well written, well presented, solid science, good evidence, clear explanations, simplified without being simple.
Date published: 2021-11-08
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Overview

Most of us would point to the human brain, and the resulting human mind, as the most significant adaptation of Homo sapiens. But there’s at least one more critical tool in our arsenal of adaptions, one that we rarely consider or appreciate as a survival mechanism: our emotions. In Understanding Human Emotions, Professor Lawrence Ian Reed helps us consider our emotions from an evolutionary point of view. Without the full range of our emotions, we simply would not be here.

About

Lawrence Ian Reed
Lawrence Ian Reed

Emotions color our cognitive processes and shape our social relationships. Discover a newfound appreciation for those feelings that underscore the most important moments of your life.

INSTITUTION

New York University

Lawrence Ian Reed is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychology at New York University. He received his BS in Psychology and PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, with a dissertation focusing on the effects of guilt on altruistic behavior. He completed his clinical internship at McLean Hospital, a Harvard Medical School affiliate.

 Lawrence held postdoctoral positions at Harvard Medical School and Harvard University. During this time, he won two Certificates of Excellence and Distinction in Teaching. He has since taught at Skidmore College, Columbia University, and New York University, where he won the Golden Dozen Teaching Award in 2020. He was also included in the Intro to Psychology course created by Outlier.

 In addition to his teaching and research, Lawrence is a psychotherapist and holds licenses in Massachusetts, Maine, and New York. He has clinical experience treating clients across many diagnostic categories, age ranges, and ethnicities. He also specializes in treating adolescents and adults with mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety; emotional disorders, such as borderline personality disorder; and substance abuse disorders. Many of his treatment methods are drawn from cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and motivational interviewing.

By This Professor

Understanding Human Emotions
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Understanding Human Emotions

Trailer

The Science and Philosophy of Emotions

01: The Science and Philosophy of Emotions

Men and women have been pondering the definition of emotion for thousands of years. Explore the thoughts of scientists, philosophers, and psychologists from Aristotle to René Descartes, B. F. Skinner to Magda Arnold, and more. Each has added significant concepts to the discussion. But do we have a functionally complete definition, yet? Do we even need one?

29 min
How Emotions Evolved

02: How Emotions Evolved

Our ancestors had a long list of adaptations to help them survive—facial recognition, mate choice, sleep management, predator vigilance, and much more. But some of those adaptations are mutually exclusive, and how did they know which one to call on in a given circumstance? Explore the phenomenon of natural selection in the development of fear, joy, anger, and disgust as the superordinate programs we rely on today.

24 min
How the Body and Emotions Influence One Another

03: How the Body and Emotions Influence One Another

Do our emotions originate in the body itself or in the surrounding environment? We know that our autonomic nervous, neuroendocrine, and immune systems are strongly related to our emotions, and we usually think of them as responding to emotions. But if we made changes in those systems, could we create the associated emotions? Learn about the fascinating experiments that have tried to do just that.

28 min
The Social Purpose of Emotions

04: The Social Purpose of Emotions

Humans are social animals and our best chance of survival comes when we thrive in the social environment. Learn about the affiliative and distancing functions of emotions on our ability to create the social connections necessary for survival. Explore the fascinating games created to test various hypotheses about the effects of emotions on social bonds.

28 min
Facial Expressions and Nonverbal Behavior

05: Facial Expressions and Nonverbal Behavior

Can you really trust an individual’s outward emotional expression when you’re trying to “read” that person? Explore the fascinating human face, a dual-processing system that can produce both genuine emotional and feigned expressions—from two different neuronal pathways. Discover the possible evolutionary reasons for showing those expressions front and center, on a body part that is so difficult to hide.

25 min
Self-Conscious Emotions: From Empathy to Shame

06: Self-Conscious Emotions: From Empathy to Shame

Some of our emotions result from an assessment of our own behavior in relation to a particular standard or goal. These evaluative self-conscious emotions include shame, guilt, pride, embarrassment, and hubris. Explore the very detailed and unique physical expressions that tend to accompany these particular emotions—and why.

26 min
Culture and Emotions

07: Culture and Emotions

In the Western world, we tend to view our emotions as individualistic; we feel something as a result of our unique body and environment. But for the rest of the world, this idea makes no sense. Most people consider emotions to be interpersonal, and this is the trend among scientists studying emotions now, too. Explore the fascinating ways in which culture affects our concepts, and expression, of emotions.

25 min
How Children Develop Emotions

08: How Children Develop Emotions

We all know that babies do not exhibit the full range of human emotions. Jealousy, pride, shame, guilt, etc. cannot be expressed until later development. But is each baby born with access to the full range of human emotions or are emotional tendencies shaped by family, culture, and peer group? This is one of the central theoretical questions for those who study emotions. Learn about the fascinating theories.

26 min
The Rational and Moral Sides of Emotions

09: The Rational and Moral Sides of Emotions

Throughout the centuries, we have often worshipped the rationality of our cognitive powers. Our emotions, however, have usually been negatively described as irrational. But what if we think our emotions are pointless only because we are in the dark about their goals? Discover why scientists describe emotions as orderly; purposeful; and, yes, intelligent.

27 min
Emotional Disorders: Anxiety and Depression

10: Emotional Disorders: Anxiety and Depression

While emotional responses are short lived, lasting on a scale of seconds to minutes, and always with an obvious trigger, moods can last days, months, or even a lifetime, and be future-oriented. Explore the mood disorders of anxiety (which can seem unnecessarily excessive) and of depression (which can seem unnecessarily prevalent). How could these disorders have resulted from the process of natural selection?

27 min
The Purpose of Disgust and Anger

11: The Purpose of Disgust and Anger

Disgust and anger are complicated feelings. Learn why the latest work by some evolutionary psychologists identify three types of disgust—pathogen, sexual, and moral—and why anger, possibly more than any other emotion, is often attempted to be controlled or mitigated. From an evolutionary point of view, exactly how do disgust and anger work to our benefit?

26 min
Connecting People: A Focus on Love

12: Connecting People: A Focus on Love

We would all agree that love is an emotion. But while we have defined all emotions as being fleeting, this is not a characteristic we really want to attribute to love. Discover the differences between romantic and companionate love. Explore these two types of love from an evolutionary point of view and discover how they can both contribute to our species’ success.

26 min