Some of the important characteristics of emotions are as follows:
(i) Emotions are Aroused and Stirred up Bodily State:
Emotions bring about many physiological changes in us. Autonomic nervous system is activated. EEC changes shows that there is an activity of the brain. Galvanic skin responses (GSR) take place. In emotion, GSR is reduced.
There is also a change in the size of the pupil of the eye.
(ii) Emotions are Energising:
Emotions energise us. They make us physically active. During emotional state here is a greater supply of energy to our body. As a result a person can run faster in fear or strike harder in anger.
(iii) Individual Differences in Emotions:
There are individual differences in emotion. Some people are more emotional, as compared to others. The intensity of an emotion and its expression may also vary front individual to individual e.g. some people experience more intense form of anger as compared to others. Some express their anger outwardly which results in violence. Others express it inwardly which leads to suicidal behaviour.
(iv) Emotions Motivate Us:
Emotions motivate an organism to do some activity. For example, an angry man wants to hit or destroy the object of his anger, fear motivates us to escape from the feared object and avoid contact with it. Emotion of love motivates us to spend more and more time with the loved one.
(v) Emotions are Involuntary:
Emotions are not within our control. We experience emotions as a result of stimulation of forces which are not within our control.
(vi) Emotions are aroused by External Factors:
Situations and events outside us generally give rise to emotions. Emotions could also be aroused from within by our needs and thoughts.
(vii) Emotion is a Subjective Experience:
The same situation may give rise to different emotions in different individuals depending upon how they perceive it. For example, the sight of a dog may arouse fear in one person and pleasure in another.
Some emotions like joy pleasure, love are pleasant emotions. They lead to hope, happiness and enjoyment. Other emotions like fear, anger, jealousy, are negative emotions and lead to sadness, pain and avoidance behaviour.