The wisdom inherent in our emotions is largely responsible for the success of our species to date. But the behavioral instructions associated with emotions developed to deal with ancient adaptive challenges may, at times, not be optimal for dealing with modern-day challenges. Furthermore, individuals in a modern society might have other goals such as maximising wealth or happiness. So let's see if emotions still have any purpose in the present times...
The great majority of people alive today have grown up in a world in which we were taught that in order to be successful, in order to get ahead, we'd need to get control over our emotions. To be seen as "emotional", is considered a bad thing. Overt displays of both positive and negative emotions are considered inappropriate in school, public and in professional settings. Emotions in general are considered the opposite of logical, clear thinking. However scientific research proves the contrary. Emotions and cognition are intricately involved with each other. Infact emotions help us make memories and enhance learning process. They also affect our perceptions and consequently our decision-making ability. Let's now understand how emotions play an important role in how we think and behave.
The function of the subconscious is to perceive and record every detail. It’s not seeing just a newspaper, but everything wherever we are. Anything that the subconscious interprets as connected to us, it will call our attention to. This implies that attention is guided by the subconscious even in case of logical learning process.
For a successful decision we need to compare and cross examine not just the different aspects of a situation but also our physical capabilities (various sensations in the body like heat, pressure, flexibility of movement, etc) The possibilities are infinite. How do we compare them?
This comparison of the incomparable is made possible by emotions.(Just the way we can compare a song with the taste of coffee) Emotions are considered to be 'The decision makers in our life' even in situations where we believe our decisions are guided purely by logic and rationality. Emotional intelligence, or our ability to understand and manage emotions, helps us to act quickly and take actions that will maximize our chances for success.
What actually happens when the boy sees the dog, his brain instantly compares the image of the dog with his past memories through the fast track circuit (using amygdala as shown in the image). The brain finds a match with the previous memory of the dog and triggers a feeling of fear. This feeling then affects how his brain perceives the dog. He then reacts with fear without knowing why. Even if the brain reasons (via the slow track through the cortex) that the dog is a friendly dog and there is no need to react with fear, yet the initial reaction has sent signals down the boy's nerves causing stress hormones to be released in his body.
EMOTIONS AND EPIGENETICS
Emotions that incline the individual to engage in seemingly pointless activities over the near-term (e.g., grief, playfulness, fascination, guilt, depression, feeling triumphant) need to be analyzed in terms of how they modify the psychological architecture for benefits that are accrued probabilistically over the long-run (e.g., gains in knowledge; recalibration of motivational priorities; the recomputation of a huge body of choice-variables in the face of information that the local world has dramatically changed).
Think of this: You don’t have to intellectualize everything, you just feel it. This is Nature’s way.