Gefühl, Emotion, Affekt

Erleben und Wahrnehmen

Wer sich mit psychologischer oder neurowissenschaftlicher Literatur befasst, wird feststellen, dass die Begriffe Gefühl, Emotion oder Affekt sehr unterschiedlich verwendet werden. Es gibt auch verschiedene Theorien darüber, wie Gefühle oder Emotionen entstehen. Essentialistische Theorien gehen davon aus, dass es für bestimmte Emotionen unterschiedliche biologische Ursachen gibt (Essenzen), die universell sind und durch die Evolution weitergegeben wurden. Der kon­s­t­ruk­ti­vis­tische Ansatz postuliert, dass Erfahrungen und Wahrnehmungen vom Gehirn konstruiert werden. Aufgrund neuer wissenschaftlicher Erkenntnisse und ihrer eigenen Forschung, hält die Psychologieprofessorin Lisa Feldman Barrett die essentialistische Vorstellung für überholt, und hat daher die Theorie der konstruierten Emotionen entwickelt.

Theory of constructed emotion

"In every waking moment, your brain uses past experience, organized as concepts, to guide your actions and give your sensations meaning. When the concepts involved are emotion concepts, your brain constructs instances of emotion." Theory of constructed emotion. Barrett, Lisa Feldman (2018): How Emotions Are Made - The Secret Life of the Brain, London: Pan Books, E-Book, Chpt. Emotions are constracted

"The theory of constructed emotion explains how you experience and perceive emotion in the absence of any consistent, biological fingerprints in the face, body, or brain. Your brain continually predicts and simulates all the sensory inputs from inside and outside your body, so it understands what they mean and what to do about them. These predictions travel through your cortex, cascading from the body-budgeting circuitry in your interoceptive network to your primary sensory cortices, to create distributed, brain-wide simulations, each of which is an instance of a concept. The simulation that’s closest to your actual situation is the winner that becomes your experience, and if it’s an instance of an emotion concept, then you experience emotion. This whole process occurs, with the help of your control network, in the service of regulating your body budget to keep you alive and healthy. In the process, you impact the body budgets of those around you, to help you survive to propagate your genes into the next generation. This is how brains and bodies create social reality. This is also how emotions become real." Barrett, Lisa Feldman (2018): How Emotions Are Made - The Secret Life of the Brain, London: Pan Books, E-Book, Chpt. 7 Emotions as Social Reality

Terms used in the book "How Emotions Are Made"

All terms and explanations are taken from the book "How Emotions are Made" and the accompanying website "". Glossary refers to "".


"Affect is your basic sense of feeling, ranging from unpleasant to pleasant (valence), and from agitated to calm (arousal). Emotion is a much more complex mental construction." (book)

Affective niche

"Everything that has any relevance to your body budget in the present moment." (glossary)
"When your budget is unbalanced, your affect doesn’t instruct you how to act in any specific way, but it prompts your brain to search for explanations. Your brain constantly uses past experience to predict which objects and events will impact your body budget, changing your affect. These objects and events are collectively your affective niche. Intuitively, your affective niche includes everything that has any relevance to your body budget in the present moment." (book)

Affective realism

"The phenomenon that interoception influences what you see, hear, and otherwise perceive." (glossary)
"In these moments of affective realism, we experience affect as a property of an object or event in the outside world, rather than as our own experience." (book)

Body budget

"A metaphor for how your brain allocates energy resources within your body. The scientific term is allostasis." (glossary)
"In this manner, any event that significantly impacts your body budget becomes personally meaningful to you." (book)

Category / Concept

"Philosophers and scientists define a category as a collection of objects, events, or actions that are grouped together as equivalent for some purpose. They define a concept as a mental representation of a category." (book)

Conceptual combination

"Combining known concepts to construct an instance of a new concept." (glossary)

Control network

"A brain network that ramps up the firing rate of some neurons and slows down others to optimize the process of categorization (among other things). Gives adults their 'spotlight of attention'." (glossary)


"The observation that many different combinations of neurons can contribute to the same outcome. (Many to one.)" (glossary)


"Emotions are meaning. They explain your interoceptive changes and corresponding affective feelings, in relation to the situation. They are a prescription for action. The brain systems that implement concepts, such as the interoceptive network and the control network, are the biology of meaning-making." (book)

Goal based concepts

"Goal-based concepts therefore free you from the shackles of physical appearance. When you walk into an entirely new situation, you don’t experience it based solely on how things look, sound, or smell. Your experience is based on your goal." (book)
"So, what’s happening in your brain when you categorize? You are not finding similarities in the world but creating them. When your brain needs a concept, it constructs one on the fly, mixing and matching from a population of instances from your past experience, to best fit your goals in a particular situation. And herein lies a key to understanding how emotions are made." (book)

Instance of emotion

"A more scientifically objective way to say 'an emotion' when you’re talking about a single occurrence." (glossary)
"Usually, you experience interoception only in general terms: those simple feelings of pleasure, displeasure, arousal, or calmness that I mentioned earlier. Sometimes, however, you experience moments of intense interoceptive sensations as emotions. That is a key element of the theory of constructed emotion. In every waking moment, your brain gives your sensations meaning. Some of those sensations are interoceptive sensations, and the resulting meaning can be an instance of emotion." (book)


"Interoception is your brain’s representation of all sensations from your internal organs and tissues, the hormones in your blood, and your immune system." (book)

Interoceptive network

"The interoceptive network issues predictions about your body, tests the resulting simulations against sensory input from your body, and updates your brain’s model of your body in the world." (book)

Population thinking

"Darwin’s idea that a species is a population of diverse individuals that have no essence at their core." (glossary)
"A category, such as a species of animal, is a population of unique members who vary from one another, with no fingerprint at their core. The category can be described at the group level only in abstract, statistical terms." (book)


"A guess made by the brain of what sensory input will arrive in the next moment." (glossary)
"Your brain is always predicting, and its most important mission is predicting your body’s energy needs, so you can stay alive and well. These crucial predictions, and their associated prediction error, turn out to be a key ingredient for making emotions." (book)

Prediction loop

"A brain wiring arrangement in which a prediction is launched, simulated, compared to actual sensory input, and then either corrected or left alone." (glossary)


"It said that a concept is represented in the brain as the best example of its category, known as the prototype." (book)

Social reality

"Agreement by a group of people that something is real, which they share by way of language." (glossary)
"This sort of social reality, in which two or more people agree that something purely mental is real, is a foundation of human culture and civilization." (book)

Variation is the norm

"The theory of constructed emotion tosses away the most basic assumptions of the classical view. For instance, the classical view assumes that happiness, anger, and other emotion categories each have a distinctive bodily fingerprint. In the theory of constructed emotion, variation is the norm." (book)


Barrett, Lisa Feldman (2018): How Emotions Are Made - The Secret Life of the Brain, London: Pan Books, E-Book


Buchtipp: How Emotions Are Made

When you feel anxious, angry, happy, or surprised, what's really going on inside of you? Many scientists believe that emotions come from a specific part of the brain, triggered by the world around us. The thrill of seeing an old friend, the fear of losing someone we love - each of these sensations seems to arise automatically and uncontrollably from within us, finding expression on our faces and in our behaviour, carrying us away with the experience. This understanding of emotion has been around since Plato. But what if it is wrong? In How Emotions Are Made, pioneering psychologist and neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett draws on the latest scientific evidence to reveal that our common-sense ideas about emotions are dramatically, even dangerously, out of date - and that we have been paying the price. Emotions aren't universally pre-programmed in our brains and bodies; rather they are psychological experiences that each of us constructs based on our unique personal history, physiology and environment. This new view of emotions has serious implications: when judges issue lesser sentences for crimes of passion, when police officers fire at threatening suspects, or when doctors choose between one diagnosis and another, they're all, in some way, relying on the ancient assumption that emotions are hardwired into our brains and bodies. Revising that conception of emotion isn't just good science, Barrett shows; it's vital to our well-being and the health of society itself. © Bild und Text Pan Books. Barrett, Lisa Feldman (2018): How Emotions Are Made - The Secret Life of the Brain, London: Pan Books, E-Book. Kommentar zum Buch bei

Buchtipp: Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain

Have you ever wondered why you have a brain? Let renowned neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett demystify that big gray blob between your ears. In seven short essays (plus a bite-sized story about how brains evolved), this slim, entertaining, and accessible collection reveals mind-expanding lessons from the front lines of neuroscience research. You’ll learn where brains came from, how they’re structured (and why it matters), and how yours works in tandem with other brains to create everything you experience. Along the way, you’ll also learn to dismiss popular myths such as the idea of a “lizard brain” and the alleged battle between thoughts and emotions, or even between nature and nurture, to determine your behavior. Sure to intrigue casual readers and scientific veterans alike, Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain is full of surprises, humor, and important implications for human nature-a gift of a book that you will want to savor again and again. © Bild und Text HMH Books. Barrett, Lisa Feldman (2020): Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain, Boston: HMH Books. Kommentar zum Buch bei


How Emotions Are Made - Conversation with Lisa Feldman Barrett - Through Conversations Podcast (28.11.2022)

How Emotions are Made (Cinematic Lecture). Emotions don’t happen to you. They are made by your predictive brain, in specific situations: a brain that feels affect and makes concepts absorbed from your life experience while conversing with your body + the world around you. This cinematic lecture by professor Lisa Feldman Barrett is based off her book of the same name, created in collaboration with Flow creative studio.

Neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett, author of the book "How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain," shows how the brain constructs an instance of emotion

You aren't at the mercy of your emotions - your brain creates them - Lisa Feldman Barrett - TED@IBM - December 2017

At the 2020 AAAS Annual Meeting, Dr. Barrett provided a lecture entitled Variation is the Norm: Darwin’s Population Thinking and the Science of Emotion.

What is a "controlled hallucination”? | The Power of Brains with Neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett | How To Academy Science 2021

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