Ryan’s notes

We Don't Just Feel Emotions, We Make Them with Ezra Klein & Lisa Feldman Barrett


  • Lisa Feldman Barrett is a superstar in psychology, focusing on emotions.

  • Perceiver-independent vs perceiver-dependent things

    • Body of water exists no matter what

    • Borders, or money, or the Presidency only exists with observers to agree

    • An apple exists, but it’s only red because we agree that the spectrum of light bouncing off it is called red

  • The signals from our body to our brain cause a certain affect, meaning they are pleasant or unpleasant. Our emotions are created in response to these.

  • Our brains are constantly predicting what comes next so it can regulate the body

    • Starting to stand causes you to increase blood pressure to the brain

    • We might predict someone running into us and brace

    • We might even see something that looks fungus-y and feel repulsed

  • Your body runs a budget, “body budget”... we only have so many resources to deploy at any given time, your brain is making these choices all the time.

  • Emotional granularity — the more emotional concepts you have, the finer grained your feelings will actually be... the concept you identify is the one you deploy and will affect how you behave in response.

  • Emotional concepts are picked up by children and associated with whatever they were feeling at the time... if you tell a child they’re sad when they’re upset, they’ll associate the feelings of being upset with being sad. :: Parenting

  • Different cultures feel differently in response to the same event. A death might lead to feelings of sadness in the US, but sickness or physical pain in other cultures.

  • "Get your butterflies flying in formation."

  • When a child is acting out we ask them if they’re hungry, tired, need to poop, need a warm bath. Maybe we’d all be better off if we did the same with the adults around us.


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