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The Powerful Effect Of Emotions, on Learning Behavior

effect of emotions

Emotions can be explained by splitting the terms of emotions- ‘e’ means ‘energy’ and ‘motion’ means movement. So, emotion is basically energy in motion. We are neurologically wired to generate and feel emotions and that is what makes us human. We express our feelings of happiness, sadness, grief, excitement, etc through emotions. Moreover, our brain is so deeply linked with emotions that there is a powerful effect of emotions on learning, behavior, relationships, mental and emotional health.

We feel the need for emotions for thinking, problem-solving, communicating and focused attention. Our brain is neurologically linked with emotions so much that our brains must be focused to have a ‘balance’ of emotions.

 Hence, emotional regulation is crucial so that we can retrieve, remember, transfer all the information we have received. The positive effect of emotions can be experienced whenever we recall information that is linked with an emotion. It becomes far easier and faster to retrieve it when the emotional juice is mixed in it.

But that’s not all. In addition to the positive effect of emotions, there are contrary effects too. When our brain can’t balance the emotions, then it causes an adverse effect on our performance. So when the negative emotions hijack our brain’s frontal lobes, a change in brain architecture occurs. Therefore, these negative effects of emotions leave us in a heightened state of stress where the emotions of stress, anxiety, fear, and doubt creep in. Thereby, dominating our logical brain and depreciating our performance.


In 2015, Disney created a film- ‘Inside Out-which was a perfect portrayal of emotions and their effects. The outstanding creativity, relatable story and captivating visuals made it the Best Animation Movie of that year so far. Additionally, students and kids were able to accurately comprehend the different emotions and their power through the ‘human portrayal of emotions’.

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Yes, it was an innovative idea to make emotions as humans. For instance, Joy was depicted as a girl who is always happy and optimistic whereas, sadness is always negative and lethargic. All the other emotions also followed the same trend. This film teaches us how much we need negative emotions (sadness, disgust) just as much we need positive emotions (joy, happiness).

Interestingly enough, to back up the last point, the movie ends with Riley (the main human character who is a girl) being saved by her negative emotion-sadness. So, the moral of the movie is quite deep rather than superficial. It reveals certain scientific aspects of the effect of emotion on behavior as well as learning.

The following article contains an exhaustive set of questions that encourages the students to understand the underlying science of emotions and the effect of emotions. It will also present the lessons for conceptual development in adolescents and younger children. There is no surefire shot for the successful implementation of strategies. Instead, each strategy may differ in the application for each grade, schools. class and their performance.


According to neuroscience, the ability of our brain to adapt changes and reform its function is called neuroplasticity. It is also the brain’s capacity to rewire itself and strengthening the pathways when they are used many times. Rewiring of our brain’s neural pathways is dependent on our experiences. Simply stated, we can change our synapses or the neural networks that are firing by changing our perception. 

Neuroplasticity can also be defined as the reframing of our neural synapses to obtain a different outcome, feeling or emotions. Hence, neuroplasticity is the science behind the positive as well as negative effects of emotions. Moreover, neuroplasticity is the reason that we get what we perceive. The brain doesn’t understand the difference between perception and reality. This means that by changing our behavior, our reaction, or thoughts, we can drastically change the outcome.

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Students can reform their behavior as well as intelligence capacity by leveraging the critical effect of emotions on learning and behavior. What your practice more, will become solid in your brain. For instance, if you do negative self-talk, eventually it will become your behavior. Or if you to self-encouragement, then your behavior will transform into that space.

The field of Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB) defines the processes that support emotional intelligence. The crucial theory behind IPNB explains the importance of emotions in human mental development. It also supports the potential of transformation that the effect of emotions has on us. In fact, the concept of emotional intelligence is intertwined with IPNB and the strategies for achieving the integration of mental, physical, and emotional health. 


In the film, Inside out, we are introduced to the concept of core memories. What makes a memory a core memory is the fact that if past experience is linked with strong emotion, then it gets deeply etched in the brain. This is why we remember some incidents vividly while others remain vague. You must have also observed that you remember both bad and good incidents. This is because both happiness and sadness are very powerful emotions.

We get introduced to a girl, named Riley and her mingling emotions. At the beginning of the movie, her joyful core memories are shown as golden balls and that of sad core memories-blue. In the beginning, Riley’s sadness interferes with her joyful memories. This causes the golden balls of joyful memories to gradually turn blue.

As the story progresses, we start to understand that joy and sadness can work together to get results. In other terms, sadness is not a fatal thing to rush upon. In fact, it is a very natural emotion and should be dealt with calmness hence. The two emotions-sadness and joy-can be beautifully weaved together to create a strong core memory. We have also seen this in the movie when Riley got her Island of memories lit up after she gets a core memory from a combination of sadness and joy.

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The questions below are curated in a way to ignite the creative thought process. Both the educators and students can apply them in the workplace, classroom, office circle, or at home. When asked appropriately, these have a tendency to greatly foster great learning and improved behavior. As you embrace the power and effect of emotions you will soon experience the results in your learning, behavior, and relationships.


Q1. What type of core memories can you create while in the classroom? It can be anything, regarding a relationship, emotional, social, academic or a novel way to approach an assignment.

Q2. How can we create strong positive core memories that infuse curiosity in students and encourage them to study with interest?

Q3. Are you making students aware of the neuroanatomy?

Q4. Are the students aware of the adverse effects of stress? Are they following the strategies to keep stress at bay?

Q5. Can we start the class with an emotional check-up? Asking how is the weather in your mind? What are your current feelings? Which memory is flashing in your mind randomly? Which emotion is not letting you concentrate? Is there any memory associated with it?


The following questions are meant to promote student discussion, self-awareness, and reflection in students. 

Sadness helped Riley in the film and your sadness can also help you.

Q 1. How do you deal with your sadness?

Q 2. Is there any way to use sadness to get better?

Q 3. What will happen if we keep sadness inside a space so that it does not spread, in order to gain control?

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Motivation and protection are the effects of emotions that are anger and fear.

Q 4. Did fear feel ever help you?

Q 5. When was fear needed in your life?

Q 6. Do fear and anger affect your problem-solving skills?

Q 7. Has anger ever cause a positive outcome?

Q 8. What strategies do you use to deal with anger?

Q 9. What are the signs you show when you are angry?

The emotion of disgust protects us from being poisoned physically and socially.

Q 10. How did the feeling of disgust help you?

Q 11. What is the effect of disgust on your behavior in relationships?

For once, consider having no feelings at all.

Q 12. What is it like to have no feelings and emotions?

Q 13. What would be the positive changes in your life if you were feeling-less?

Q 14. What would be the negative changes in your life if you had no feelings?

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