“People treat their feelings about the world as evidence for how the world really is,” said Lisa Feldman Barrett, a psychology professor. According to Barrett our emotions play a vital role in perceiving the world around us. If we are happy, anything around us looks good and positive. If we are unhappy the perception of our surrounding replicates our emotions and moods.
‘Studying our emotional life’, an article published by the Northeastern University talks about the works of Barrett, who studies how emotions connect your behaviour and functions in mind. The methods used in the process can be experiential, behavioural, psychophysiological, and brain imaging.
Binocular Rivalry is one method that she employs in visual neuroscience. Here, two different images are presented in the left and the right eye of the subject. The image observed first (out of the two) and the duration for which it is observed is measured and calculated. The explanation behind this experiment is that our feelings influence us into being conscious of something or seeing something. We pay our maximum attention to what we connect to, have experienced, and witnessed.
She also studies how language plays an important role in identifying and recognising emotions. This technique is called as Semantic Satiation. It is a psychological phenomenon which includes the subject repeating a particular word or phrase many times, to an extent that it becomes meaningless repeated sounds. “If you repeat the word ‘anger’, you will question and won’t know the meaning and the reason behind a furious scowl of the person sitting right beside you,” says Barrett. This technique is also employed in the process of speech therapy. If the subject stutters with few words, he or she is made to repeat them till the negative notion of difficulty attached to it disappears. Words shape our perception, and interfering with the processing of the words interferes with our perception. Here, we observe the role that language plays in controlling how somebody feels and perceives emotions.