Emotions and Thought/Positive and Negative Emotions
Chapter 8 – Emotional Development
Emotions and Thought
Emotions influence our thoughts. Mild emotion, both positive and negative can be useful in allowing us to remember things and do better when testing. Strong emotions can lead to anxiety and depression, which can cause an inability to recall and use known information. This inability can present as test anxiety. Things learned in one emotional state are best recalled in that same emotional state (Prime for life, 2012). This does not mean that we do not learn when emotions are high, but that what we do learn is likely not as well understood and it is harder to recall, especially when recall is attempted in a differing emotional state. An analogy is that of things learned while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Many alcoholics cannot play billiards well unless they are impaired. The same for dancing and many social skills, they are best done in the same state as to which they are learned.
The similar terms emotional intelligence and emotional competence also have similar connotations (Bergin & Bergin, 2012). Both describe the effect that emotions have on social skills. Emotions set the tone for a student’s interaction with a subject. Those with the ability to self-regulate well, tend to be more emotionally mature and do better in subjects they do not particularly like when compared to others that may not like the subject, but allow their emotions to become negative instead of focusing on the positive.
Those that experience more emotions that are positive are more likely to have relationships that are more successful and do better in the classroom (Purcell-Gates, 1995). Student’s thoughts are more attentive and they have better relationships with both authorities (teachers) and peers. Positive emotions can be cultivated by wise teachers with verbiage like, “It is not a test, but an opportunity for you to see what you have learned and what you need to concentrate on to master this material.”
Negative emotions can cause stress, which can cause anxiety (Page & Page, 2011). Failure is then compounded to the point of justification based on faulty thinking (excuses), such as, “I just don’t test well” or “My father’s side of the family was always nervous about speaking in front of a group.” Suppression of emotions can create the inability to process information and can create an environment in which learning is difficult.
Emotions are powered by self-talk and reinforced by others. They can be positive or negative depending on the setting and modeling presented. Mild emotion can be useful in memory retention and recall, while strong emotions equate to inability to grasp, use or maintain material.
1. How can mild emotions help students do better on tests or in school in general?
2. Why would strong emotions be a hindrance to the student?
3. Why is emotional intelligence so important to forming social skills?
4. Why is teacher verbiage important to helping a student have positive emotions in the classroom?
5. Why does failure lead to false justification, which powers future negative emotions?
(2012). Prime for life. Lexington: Prevention Research Institute.
Bergin, C., & Bergin, D. (2012). Child and adolescent development in your classroom. Belmont: Wadsworth.
Page, R., & Page, T. (2011). Promoting health and emotional well-being in your classroom. (5th ed.). Sudbury: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
Purcell-Gates, V. (1995). Other people’s words: The cycle of low literacy. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.