Emotions

Easy question for Pixar fans: can you name the five characters in this image?

Exactly, they’re the five emotions that appear in the movie Inside Out, which in Spain got translated as Del Revés: Fear, Disgust, Sadness, Joy and Anger.

What you may not know is that it´s not a coincidence that those five emotions were picked for the movie. They´re what experts call the universal emotions, that is, the ones that every human being possesses from birth, regardless of their origin or cultural environment. There are two additional emotions, surprise and contempt, that are considered universal by some experts but not by others; what´s clear is that they all agree on these five.

Cool, right? Even cooler is the fact that each of these emotions goes with a characteristic facial expression that´s also universal: we can all recognize them instinctively, and in fact we do it all the time, interpreting how others feel based on the expression on their face. Focus on the characters in the image for a moment, and you will clearly see the emotions they each represent.

We know all this because Paul Ekman, a psychologist specialized in emotions (and Pixar´s advisor for Inside Out) travelled in the 1960´s to one of the most remote and isolated civilizations on Earth, in Papua New Guinea, where modern advances like photography or television were unknown, to study how the locals managed to express their own emotions and recognize them in others.

Which goes to show that sometimes we may seem very different on the outside, but on the inside, deep down, we´re all made of the same stuff, even after us adding extra layers of personality, cultural references and learned behaviours that sometimes cause us not understand each other very well.

Personally, I think the movie is very funny and really interesting for all ages, worth watching if you haven´t done so yet. My favourite scene is a super cool example of empathy provided by Sadness, one of the main characters, but there are many, many other memorable moments.

If you´ve already watched it, do you have a favourite scene? What would you highlight from the movie?

And if you want to learn more about emotions, have a look at this atlas: http://atlasofemotions.org/

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