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The influence of emotions on learning

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It is common knowledge that emotions are an important part of our lives and that we as humans are primarily emotional beings. Moreover, according to neuroscience, emotions can significantly influence human cognitive processes such as attention, memory, learning, problem solving etc.

In this article we will learn about emotions and their impact on learning.

The way a person thinks and how their learning is influenced is due to emotions, because they are very powerful and contagious. The situations a person faces and goes through can lead to emotional balance or imbalance. For example, if a person has had bad experiences at school and in their environment, it is difficult to find the motivation to learn something new. However, if that person can regulate their bad or negative emotions, it is likely that they will be motivated or improve their ability to learn.

When teachers, educators and trainers understand the role of emotions in learning and teaching, they can design more effective learning experiences. In fact, learning is a behavior that humans have engaged in since their existence, and it is an essential and continuous process.

But what are emotions and how do they affect learning?

Emotions are physiological states that people experience when confronted with different stimuli and environments. Each emotion usually triggers pleasure or discomfort. For example, joy feels good, but anger does not.

All emotions can enhance or weaken the ability to learn. There are positive emotions that affect the learning process in certain ways and also negative emotions that affect learning in different ways. Positive emotions and emotional states can, for example:

  • Make people more creative and willing to try new things.
  • Make people healthier for social interactions.
  • Increase the ability to learn.
  • Enable students to broaden their perspectives.
  • Provide alternatives.
  • Respond effectively to criticism and failure.

On the other hand, unproductive negative emotions can:

  • Make people feel disinterested in their work.
  • Impair their ability to process and retain new information.
  • Cause people to interrupt a healthy lifestyle.
  • Lead to low motivation or disengagement in students.
  • Have a negative impact on a student’s learning experience.

Emotions can also influence learners at different stages of the learning process and can be accelerators or obstacles. Positive emotions that have a positive impact on the learning process are enjoyment of learning in general, enthusiasm for the subject matter, interest, passion, pride in what has been achieved, etc. Negative emotions include embarrassment, stress, fear of failure, disinterest, discouragement, etc.

Three ways to use emotions to enhance learning

As we said earlier, emotions influence learning and people can also regulate their emotions to take advantage of learning opportunities. There are three ways to use emotions to promote positive learning experiences. These are as follows:

  1. Take a break from negative experiences: Turn the motivation around by taking a break and doing something that makes you happy. Physical activity can be the answer and will pump you full of feel-good hormones.
  2. Practice positive thinking: Replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts will improve how you feel. By promoting positive thinking, you can rid yourself of negative feelings and thoughts.
  3. Promote your leadership skills: It is no coincidence that leadership skills include regulating emotions. You can practice this by developing skills such as giving positive and negative feedback effectively, etc.


Cooks-Campbell, A. (2023). How Emotions Affect Learning: The Impact of Emotions. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Oct. 2023].

Meilleur, C. (2019). [IN DEPTH ANALYSIS] The importance of emotions in learning. [online] KnowledgeOne. Available at: [Accessed 25 Oct. 2023].

Osika, A., MacMahon, S., Lodge, J.M. and Carroll, A. (2022). Emotions and learning: What role do emotions play in how and why students learn? [online] Times Higher Education. Available at: [Accessed 24 Oct. 2023]. Created in partnership with the University of Queensland.

Sreenivasan, S. (2020). The Influence of Emotions on Learning. [online] eLearning Industry. Available at: [Accessed 23 Oct. 2023].

Tyng, C.M., Amin, H.U., Saad, M.N.M. and Malik, A.S. (2019). The Influences of Emotion on Learning and Memory. Frontiers in Psychology, [online] 8(1454). doi:[1]

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