It is very common that in relation to what we like the most and least we classify our emotions according to whether they are negative or positive . This way of thinking often makes us forget how important they are.

The importance of emotions has a value that lies not only in the adaptive capacity that they have supposed and suppose but that they make up the crystals through which we look at the world, interpret it and, ultimately, live.

Surely you had heard of the movie ‘ Del Revés (Inside Out) ‘ , 2015) and this film reflects very well this usefulness and importance that we are commenting on.


The animated Pixar film tells the story of Riley. This is an 11-year-old girl who has to move to an unknown city for her father’s work reasons. What is different about the film is that Riley is not the direct protagonist but her emotions are.

Disgust, fear, joy, sadness and Anger from the “control room” manage Riley’s mood and face the difficulties that appear in this new stage.

What are emotions?

Without going deep into the different theories, in a simple way it can be said that emotions are the feelings that appear correlatively to different situations (understanding these as what happens both in the external world and in the internal world, our thoughts).

Emotions have different components :

– The psychological content or how I feel.

– The organic or physiological content that encompasses the reactions at the body level.

– Non-verbal expression (gestures, postures, looks …).

– The social meaning : which encompasses the social rules of expression of emotions according to the situation, sex or age of the person.

From psychology, the existence (in all cultures) of 6 basic emotions is established . These are the protagonists of the film: joy, sadness, anger, fear, disgust and surprise (the latter absent).

Why are emotions important?

Emotions have both benefits and drawbacks, yet the former are vastly more powerful than the latter. The disadvantages of not having emotions are basically that without them the evolution of our species would never have been possible .

The types of functions can be clarified in:

– Adaptive: as we already mentioned, they assume that we have been able to evolve. A common example is thinking about how the emotion of fear allows us to escape from different dangers (which was essential for our ancestors).

– Motivational : emotions are not only influenced by behavior but also drive it. For example, disgust motivates us to throw away a yogurt that smells a bit strange very quickly.

– Social : mediate, facilitate and, it can be said that, are protagonists of human interaction. For example, sadness causes others to come to us for help.

A fourth type could be added which would be its informative capacity . Although only useful if we pay attention to them, they inform us of how we live and how we find ourselves . Many times, as it is something so intuitive, we do not give it the importance we should, but identification and emotional awareness are complex and very useful abilities.

How do emotions change?

In the film we can see how important it is for emotions to evolve and become more complex.

Riley’s change of stage, from a girl to taking a little step into adolescent life , means that everything that is changes. It represents very well, for example, the change in personality: how different aspects that were very important in a previous stage cease to be so.

However, emotions also change and are no longer “so basic.” While in childhood the emotional reactions to the experience were a matter of everything and nothing , new experiences are filled with nuances that even lead to the reinterpretation of previous memories or experiences.

This is very well reflected in the film since we can see how memories are generated. The childhood memories are balls of a single color (for example yellow for joy), however the new ones, since life is not black or white, produce balls that mix the colors of the basic emotions.

The reinterpretation of the past that I was commenting on occurs when the character of Tristeza touches the yellow balls and “dyes” them in part. This new sadness in the memory represents, for example, longing or the perception of more nuances of it (the moment of joy came after a moment of sadness that was omitted in the memory perceived by the girl).

In conclusion , I highly recommend the film so that, if you did not perceive these details, you can see it from a new perspective. And remember, it’s not a bad thing if your eyes get wet with excitement! 

Elle Mcdonald

I am Elle Mcdonald Specializations in Psychology . Graduated in psychology from the University of Tennessee in 2000. Diploma of Advanced Studies in the Department of Personality, Evaluation and psychological treatments with excellent results.

First Level of Master in Clinical Psychology at the Center for Behavioral Therapists (recognized with a scientific-professional nature by the College of Psychologists)

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