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Why Do We Need Emotion Words in the First Place' Commentary on Lakoff (2015)


George Lakoff (2016) discusses how emotion metaphors reflect the discrete bodily states associated with each emotion. The analysis raises questions about the context for and frequency of use of emotion metaphors and, indeed, emotion labels (e.g., "angry"), per se. An assumption implicit to most theories of emotion is that emotion language is just another channel through which people express ongoing emotion states. Drawing from recent evidence that labeling ongoing emotions reduces their intensity, we propose that a primary function of emotion language is regulatory rather than expressive.