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“Fascinating . . . A thought-provoking journey into emotion science.” — Wall Street Journal
“A singular book, remarkable for the freshness of its ideas and the boldness and clarity with which they are presented.” — Scientific American
“A brilliant and original book on the science of emotion, by the deepest thinker about this topic since Darwin.” — Daniel Gilbert, best-selling author of Stumbling on Happiness
The science of emotion is in the midst of a revolution on par with the discovery of relativity in physics and natural selection in biology. Leading the charge is psychologist and neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett, whose research overturns the long-standing belief that emotions are automatic, universal, and hardwired in different brain regions. Instead, Barrett shows, we construct each instance of emotion through a unique interplay of brain, body, and culture. A lucid report from the cutting edge of emotion science, How Emotions Are Made reveals the profound real-world consequences of this breakthrough for everything from neuroscience and medicine to the legal system and even national security, laying bare the immense implications of our latest and most intimate scientific revolution.
“Mind-blowing.” — Elle
“Chock-full of startling, science-backed findings . . . An entertaining and engaging read. ” — Forbes
Psychologist and neuroscientist Barrett painstakingly attempts to refute traditional thinking about human emotions as portrayed in the popular media, such as the TV show Lie To Me and Oscar-winning movie Inside Out. She argues that emotions aren't a "fixed component of our biological nature," but rather are constructed in our minds based on predictions. Emotions take form from how they are perceived, Barrett writes, and moreover, they take different forms in different cultures. Her ideas make intuitive sense and are convincing, though her presentation is often slow going as she painstakingly dissects every conceivable counterargument. Some of her ideas are, as she admits, speculative, though "informed by data." The book includes possible implications of constructed emotions, Barrett's prescriptions for emotional health "eating healthfully, exercising, and getting enough sleep," among others and an investigation into whether animals experience emotions. Most startling is Barrett's suggestion that chronic pain, stress, anxiety, and autism might be caused by errors in predicted, constructed emotions. The book is a challenging read and will offer the most rewards to researchers already familiar with the longstanding and apparently still unresolved arguments about what emotions are.