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Motivation, Emotions, Eating Habits and Taste Preferences, and Stress

There are several theories on how people experience emotions that have been put forward throughout the years, all attributing emotions to separate causes. The Schachter-Singer Theory is a cognitive theory of emotions, according to which a person first experiences a physiological response to a stimulus and is then left to figure out the reason for such response (Cherry, 2020). According to this theory, the interpretation of the physiological reaction by the brain is what makes it into an emotion (Cherry, 2020). These identified emotions, then, can motivate individuals to act accordingly. For example, if someone feels a positive emotion, such as happiness, after finishing a task, they might be more motivated to repeat the task in the future. In a way, it is a way of the brain conditioning the individual into acting a certain way depending on the bodily reaction they feel from doing it.

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Understanding Emotions and Gestures Inter- and Intra- culturally

Picture one

There are several universal emotions that can be expressed by facial expressions – such as smiling to express happiness. However, gestures are mostly not universal, and in some cultures mean the opposite what they would mean in other cultures. For example, a thumbs-up, which in the US is regarded as a positive gesture, is an extremely rude sentiment in Iran, similar to the American middle finger (Jones, 2020). Another example of this can be seen in the picture below (“Gestures,” 2017), where the “ok” symbol actually signifies the human anus (Jones, 2020) in Brazil. It is evident that depending on the culture, the gestures can mean completely different things. Therefore, it is vital to be aware of these differences when traveling or communicating with individuals from other cultures to avoid miscommunication.

However, in some cases these gestures can help facilitate communication, if the knowledge of their meaning is the same for the people involved. If the inter- or intra-cultural links between the gestures and the emotions are the same, they can allow people that do not speak the same language to communicate more effectively. Furthermore, even if the individuals do speak the same language, gestures that are perceived in the same way by the two parties can help them understand how the other person is feeling. Body language facilitates communication as it allows people to see what the meaning behind the other person’s words is.

Eating Habits and Cultural and Situational Factors

Diets differ largely between different cultures, majorly because of availability of different products and the necessity. For example, Asian cuisines often include a lot of rice and seafood, such as the Japanese sushi, due to the availability of the ingredients. Today it is possible to get most ingredients at most times of the year in most countries regardless of the climate, especially the more developed ones, due to international trade. However, traditional food remains, and many individuals grow up with eating habits and preferences that are rooted in cultural and situational factors. For example, as mentioned above, Slavic cuisines include numerous dairy products not available in other cultures. Someone that was raised with such ingredients and dishes is more likely to enjoy them than someone who had not been exposed to them. An example of such dish is salo, frozen pig fat that is often eaten in Russia, Ukraine, and other Slavic states.

An example of a situational factor that might affect one’s eating preferences is the choices parents make. For example, obese parents are more likely to have obese children, as they will likely copy the eating habits of their role models. According to NHS (“Health survey reveals association between parent and child obesity,” 2018), 28% of children of obese parents are obese, compared to 8% of children of parents of normal weight. In an example like this, it can be a dangerous habit, as obesity is linked with diabetes and various other health problems and can lead to an early death. However, this effect of being affected by situational factors is not always negative. For example, if the individual has more access to healthy and affordable foods, they are more likely to make healthier choices.

Impact of Stress on Health

Stress is a common mental and emotional state for many people today, from children struggling to navigate the social dynamics of a playground to adults trying to figure out their purposes in life. No matter where an individual is in life, they are likely to have some experience in feeling stressed. This condition ranges from episodic occurrences, such as the nervousness before meeting the parents of one’s significant other, to chronic everyday stress caused by various continuous pressures in one’s life. However, while it can have a very negative effect on a person’s mental, emotional, and even physical state, it can also manifest positive effects. Therefore, it is vital to recognize the type of stressor and treat it accordingly to improve one’s overall health and wellbeing. Feeling threatened by either real or perceived danger is referred to as stress (“Types of stress,” 2020). This causes a release of adrenaline and cortisol, the stress hormones, which lead to faster heart rate and breathing, tightening of the muscles, higher blood pressure, and sharpening of the senses (“Types of stress,” 2020). Depending on the stressor, the individual might experience different symptoms.

As mentioned above, stress can be both positive and negative, depending on the consequences it entails. The two types of stress are eustress, positive stress, and distress, negative stress (“Types of stressors (Eustress vs. distress),” n.d.). Eustress, which is often motivating, short-lived, and easier to cope with, can be caused by events such as promotion, marriage, or a vacation (“Types of stressors (Eustress vs. distress),” n.d.). Distress, on the other hand, is the type of stress most people associate with this state of mind and can have very detrimental effects on one’s body and mind. Distress can last longer than eustress and often causes extreme discomfort and anxiety and can be a result of events such as heartbreak, financial troubles, or interpersonal conflicts (“Types of stressors (Eustress vs. distress),” n.d.). Furthermore, stress might be caused by internal factors such as procrastination, concern about the future, or various fears (“Types of stressors (Eustress vs. distress),” n.d.). Recognizing the root cause of distress is vital in avoiding the negative consequences.

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There are many different stressors, but they can all be attributed to three main types of stress. Acute stress, the most common type, refers to the bodily reaction to a singular distressing event (“Types of stress,” 2020). When acute stress becomes more frequent, it is called episodic, and can lead to physical and mental exhaustion (“Types of stress,” 2020). Lastly, the most long-term type of stress is chronic, which has an extremely negative effect on the constantly excited nervous system (“Types of stress,” 2020). Chronic stress is the most severe, however, the other types can also have detrimental effects on the individual.

Although it is impossible to avoid stress completely, it is possible to decrease its negative effects if the stressors are known. An example of acute stress would be being stuck in a traffic jam or having a fight with a loved one. Some recommendations for dealing with this type of stress include breathing exercises, a mini-meditation, or changing the way one approaches the situation. This will redirect the attention and help relax the body and mind, helping avoid the more detrimental consequences, such as it turning into episodic acute stress. However, if one does start experiencing episodic stress, it is advisable to make lifestyle changes to decrease the exposure to the specific stressors. This might mean lowering the expectations one might have for himself or changing the group of people he or she surround themselves with. Lastly, chronic stress, the most serious type, can be caused by constant conflicts in the family or intense pressure at work or in school. This type of stress can lead to many health complications and should not be left untreated.


Hence, if the individual is unable to change the circumstances that lead to this distress, it is advised to find ways to cope with the consequences, such as meditation, regular exercise, and a good diet. It is vital to maintain a healthy nervous system that can withstand such stress. Nevertheless, whatever the type or cause of stress, if it causing severe discomfort it is advised to see a doctor and listen to professional advice before it is too late.


Cherry, K. (2020). Overview of the 6 major theories of emotion. Verywell Mind. Web.

Gestures [Photograph]. (2017). Verywell Mind. Web.

Health survey reveals association between parent and child obesity. (2018). NHS. Web.

Jones, M. (2020). 10 Common hand gestures that are rude in other countries. Reader’s Digest. Web.

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Types of stress (2020). Good Thinking. Web.

Types ofsStressors (Eustress vs. Distress). (n.d.). Web.

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