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By (March 19, 2009) ()

Over the last 6 months, I’ve noticed I’ve felt a lot of jealousy/envy towards many of my fellow musician friends who are doing well in their professions, while I go to grad school. I know it’s not rational or productive to feel this way, but then again, emotions are often involuntary, uncontrollable, and have nothing to do with logic or sense.

For example, I have a music project with a very talented friend of mine named Rick, but he works a lot abroad, so we have a stand-in replacement guitarist for him (Jim) in NYC, so that we can still perform locally regardless of Rick’s schedule. When I learned that our replacement guitarist Jim got a job going on a major US tour with Rick’s main group, I was filled with jealousy and felt betrayed too, because it meant that my group couldn’t fulfill it’s own commitments (like performing in Texas at SXSW in a few weeks), after I’d introduced Jim to Rick in the first place. I felt like Jim was stolen from me and I envied the opportunity he was given but I understood that he was getting a chance to see the US and perform in a way I couldn’t have given him while getting paid much better than what I could have provided. It’s a tricky scenario but I guess deep down, I want to be with them performing at large theaters around the country.

This got me thinking about what is behind the emotion of jealousy and what it’s composed of… My first hunch was that it was a component of anger and fear, but in my situation, I think there is an element of desire too…in that I want to be where my friends are. In Plutchik’s chart he places “envy” between anger and sadness and I’d agree there’s an element of sadness in jealousy because I’m sad (and angry) that I am not traveling and making money and I’m sad that they’d leave me in the lurch to deal with my existing obligations. The fact that I like ITP and am happy learning new things, doesn’t really factor into the equation too much, although I think it dulls the pain in some way because I am being active and am engaged in new things, not just sitting around my house wishing I was on tour with them. I think jealousy is a very interesting emotion and it can have very different implications from one situation to another. Romantic jealousy is an entirely different can of worms that we can talk about another time 😉


A few main points from my presentation:

  • It is very difficult to define emotion… The word “emotion” can be broken down into (e-motion) – a motion outward
  • Plutchik defined emotion as “an inferred complex sequence of reactions to a stimulus [including] cognitive evaluations, subjective changes, autonomic and neural arousal, impulses to action, and behavior designed to have an effect upon the stimulus that initiated the complex sequence” (Plutchik, 182, p.551)
  • According to Plutchik’s definition, every emotion includes 3 aspects: cognition (which includes appraisal), feeling (sensation) and action (impulse to behave in a certain way). Cognition, feelings, and action often happen at the same time and it can be difficult to determine which is which. However they do not always happen at once
  • It’s important to distinguish emotions from motivations. Emotions are temporary. A smile or frown fades in time whereas a motivation or drive can persist until the goal is met
  • There are 3 ways to study emotion: (1.) Self-reports– descriptions of how you feel at a given time, using your own words, rating your feelings on a scale. (2.) Physiological measurements – measures of blood pressure, heart rate, sweating, and other variables. Using instruments like lie detector tests, Electroencephalography (EEG), which examines electrical changes in patient’s brains over a set period of time, Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), which measures brain activity based on on changes in oxygen intake.
    (3.) Behaviors– facial and vocal expressions, as well as running running away, attacking, and other actions

March 19, 2009

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