Why do some people get too emotional

Rational or emotional - are feelings a help or a burden?

Emotions - just unnecessary ballast?

"Hello, my name is Robot. I'm happy to see you," the humanoid robot greets a visitor at a trade fair. In doing so, he pulls his face, modeled after a human example, into something that "real" people interpret as a laugh. And indeed: Most visitors also react with a laugh at this sight, but at least with a pleased smile.

However: No matter how friendly or how happily the visitors smile at Robot - his reaction is not very variable, it remains monotonous. A standard chip controlled laugh.

Human emotions, on the other hand, are complex computing power. Real joy is completely alien to this human-shaped device made of metal, plastic and computer chips. Just as all other feelings are alien to him - even those that all too often burden us humans.

What are they annoying us sometimes, these fears, worries and the many emotional hardships with which we so often have to struggle through life. Whether positive or negative feelings, when a person really gets going, he can hardly get a clear thought.

Why is it so difficult for us to weigh up complicated things and problems soberly? Pro - Cons = result. And the matter would be quickly off the table.

Emotions - a superfluous relic from human prehistory?

It wasn't that long ago - a look back into the last century is enough - emotion research had a difficult time. It was shaped by the worldview of an industrial society that was coming to an end. In fact, emotions weren't really an issue at all. On the contrary: they were even considered disruptive in modern society.

They seemed to be something of a relic from human prehistory, something that prevents us from really becoming human. Man, the rational being. The scholars held the assumption that thinking and feeling should split off, should human action be shaped by reason. It was believed that feelings inhibited thinking.

Are Computers Better People?

This rational thinking was still very "en vogue" until the end of the 1980s, as "AI", artificial intelligence, was experiencing a renaissance. Already at the end of the 1950s, the euphoria for this young, up-and-coming science spread. The idea was groundbreaking: the creation of intelligent machines.

But the ambitious project was way ahead of its time. It simply failed because of the performance of the computers. There seemed to be light years between the computing power that was necessary to simulate human intelligence in the computer and the technical possibilities of the time.

It shouldn't take that long, though. In the period that followed, computer performance doubled from year to year, so that as early as the 1980s it was possible to implant at least partially intelligent behavior in a machine.

If it were up to some visionaries of artificial intelligence, it seemed only a matter of time before the intelligent machine would be superior to the emotionally shaped rational being humans.

Rating system emotions

And today? Reason and emotion-controlled humans still cannot be replaced by machines, no matter how (artificially) intelligent they are. How should that work? After all, they are built by humans. And as long as people don't know and understand themselves one hundred percent, their machines can only be worse.

In many areas, mechanical helpers process processes at high speed and with extreme precision that are inaccessible to humans. On the other hand, if you compare the effort that is required to make a sandwich, for example, then this process means enormous computing power for a machine.

The effort for humans, on the other hand, is downright banal. He does this with a certain automatism, without great effort, without mental challenge. Still, it's the same process.

For emotion researchers it is clear: The main difference is that humans are equipped with a rating system that machines lack: emotions. Man feels and he has a body through which this feeling becomes visible. As a result, people are able to assign meaning to things and actions and to vary their "computing power" accordingly.

Every situation that we experience is accompanied by emotional experiences, is linked to them and stored in the body. When evaluating new situations, this memory is awakened again. We react "from the gut".

We learn whether certain situations mean danger to us, for example, and whether our body has to mobilize forces in the shortest possible time in order to counter this danger. Or whether we are just making bread and it is enough to "switch on" the appropriate automatism.

Our daily actions are not based solely on reason, as a result of rational weighing, but are for the most part guided by our emotions. It is they who give us lightning-fast orientation for the vast majority of everyday situations that we have to assess. Strictly speaking, emotions are concentrated life experiences.

Emotion research is on the trail of our feelings and their influence. Machines such as magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) help them - how can it be otherwise. These imaging techniques make it possible to watch the brain think. It is becoming more and more evident how strongly our feelings also unconsciously influence our body and its behavior.

Medicine has also recognized that "the head" also plays a decisive role in any healing success and that healing cannot only be based on correcting functional defects in the body. The human factor cannot be split up. His body, his thoughts and his emotions are inseparable. It only works as a whole.

Artificial - Emotional - Intelligence?

Hardly anyone would have seriously expected to suddenly be confronted with a human image in the form of a humanoid robot. An artificial being - rational, functional, precise and flawless, technically perfect and without blocking emotions. Greetings from Hollywood!

However: Intelligent machines have long been an integral part of our everyday life. They are helpers who make our lives easier and give us freedom. Every airliner today is packed with artificial intelligence.

And our cars too: Just think of navigation or driver assistance systems. It goes without saying that machines do work independently that is dangerous or cannot be done with human power alone. Feeling seems to be superfluous.

But is it really like that? Scientists are not indifferent to emotions - not even in AI research. If it is already possible to implant a certain amount of intelligence in machines, then it must also work with the emotions!

The opinion is widespread among experts that human emotions are ultimately nothing more than biochemical processes that can be technically simulated. Just like processing knowledge.