Emotion 1: Emotional cause and effect

Emotional cause and effect

Emotion-behaviour loops

We've been looking at how characters respond emotionally to events.

But let's take this further: emotional responses drive behaviour, which cause new events, which trigger new emotional responses, and so on in a continuous feedback loop.

(This is true in life as well as in story.)

A basic emotion-behaviour loop looks like this:

Diagram showing trigger emotion and behaviour in a loop

What do these terms mean?

  • Trigger: Something happens.
  • Emotion: We have an emotional reaction.
  • Behaviour: We do something in response, which often sets up the next trigger.

What's the emotion-behaviour loop?


Take this panel from Usagi Yojimbo again:

  • What are the trigger, emotion, and behaviour?
  • And how long do you think the loop takes? (They can be very fast!)

Susano-o shocked horse panel Sakai

Your turn
Discussing your answers

Sometimes these loops are 'bigger' and take longer.

For example, here are a couple of pages from Persepolis.

The first page is for context: it shows the process for getting the much-hated King of Iran to leave the country.

What's the emotional loop for the crowd on the second page? And how long do you think it takes?

(Right-click to see bigger and read the text.)

Panels from Persepolis that show the Shah of Iran eventually leaving the country

Panel from Persepolis that shows the population of Iran celebrating after the Shah leaves

Your turn
Discussing your answers

That's the basic emotion-behaviour loop.

Now let's dig a little deeper.

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