Intriguing experiments on measuring common emotions

Is there really a way to measure our emotions? They aren’t concrete things like a finding a shoe size or how much water is in a cup. But, countless studies have been conducted in the past as a way to measure certain emotions. Here are just a few:

1. Excessive Trust:

An interesting trust experiment shows the so-called “excessive trust” that we as people put into others. The game begins by you being handed $5. Your choices are to either:

a) keep the $5 or
b) to donate.

In the case that you keep the money, the game ends. On the latter choice the money gets inflated to $20. You are then given another two choices:

a) give the money to a stranger again or
b) flip a coin.

The $20 is then given to the stranger and it’s up to the stranger to decide whether you get to keep $10 or none at all. Otherwise, flipping the coin would determine if you’d get to keep $10 or not. For this, more than half of participants in an execution of this study chose to put their trust into the stranger. This was odd as most students expected to get the money back less than 40% of the time.

This wasn’t an experiment that measured individual trust within a specific person, but was something that came up and I thought was really cool. Living in a place like Canada, the outcomes of this experiment didn’t surprise me (yes, I’m referring to our ‘polite’ stereotype).

2. Self-Confidence:

This next experiment was not geared towards self-confidence but it definitely shows some correlation to this emotion. Children where split into two test groups A and B.

Both groups were given a relatively simple puzzle. When each participant finished the puzzle, those in Group A were told, “Great job, you’re so smart!” whole Group B participants were told, “Great job on your effort!”

Next the groups were again given a puzzle, this time much much harder. Now the children had a choice whether to complete the puzzle or not. Those in group A almost always rejected to offer but the opposite was seen for those in group B.

The children in group A who took up the challenge were incredibly discouraged when they couldn’t complete the puzzle. Group B children gave the puzzle their best and were content with themselves even if they couldn’t solve it.

This experiment is definitely more about exposure and but on the confidence side of things, we can see how outside influences on our confidence may or may not be a good thing.

3. Jealousy:

For this emotion, I was not able to find an experiment but instead looked into several aspects that lead to feelings of jealousy.

a. Low self-esteem: Generally the most common theme that is seen in jealousy is having low self-esteem. When someone’s experiences make you feel ‘lesser’ in a sense, you’re left with a lack of self-happiness.

b. Neuroticism: When you constantly feel that you aren’t in control of your emotions and are anxious on a regular basis, it’s hard to find content in yourself and your own abilities.

c. Insecurity: This is basically the same idea as low self esteem except focused on specific aspects of your own body or skills. we see insecurity as a form of weakness but often times it’s an unstoppable emotion.

d. Dependence: In our world, it’s incredibly important to be independent. But when you’re someone like me, who has always relied on someone being at my side, your inability to do certain things on your own definitely sparks jealousy.

e. Inadequacy: Constantly feeling like you’re not good enough makes you want, even need, to be that one person who is supposedly good enough.




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