Philosophers at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum have put forward a new model that explains how humans recognise the emotions of others. According to their theory, humans are capable of perceiving feelings directly via pattern recognition. They do not have to deduce feelings by interpreting other people’s behaviour. That model is described by the philosophers Prof Dr Albert Newen and Dr Anna Welpinghus, together with Prof Dr Georg Juckel from the LWL University Hospital for Psychiatry, in the journal Mind & Language.
An emotion is a pattern of typical features
A key thesis of the Bochum model states that every emotion is determined by a pattern of characteristic features, for example physiological reactions, facial expressions and gestures, a typical feeling or a cognitive assessment of the situation. Even if an individual does not display all components of an emotion pattern, perhaps because he or she is maintaining a neutral facial expression, the other features are sufficient for rendering the corresponding pattern recognisable.