Emotions seem to rule our daily lives. We make decisions based on whether we are happy, angry, sad, bored, or frustrated. We choose activities and hobbies based on the emotions they incite.
What Exactly Is an Emotion?
According to the book, “Discovering Psychology,” “An emotion is a complex psychological state that involves three distinct components: a subjective experience, a physiological response, and a behavioral or expressive response.”
In addition to understanding exactly what emotions are, researchers have also tried to identify and classify the different types of emotions. In 1972, psychologist Paul Eckman suggested that there are six basic emotions that are universal throughout human cultures: fear, disgust, anger, surprise, happiness, and sadness. In 1999, he expanded this list to include a number of other basic emotions, including embarrassment, excitement, contempt, shame, pride, satisfaction, and amusement.
During the 1980s, Robert Plutchik introduced another emotion classification system known as the “wheel of emotions.” This model demonstrated how different emotions can be combined or mixed together, much the way an artist mixes primary colors to create other colors. Plutchik suggested that there are 8 primary emotional dimensions: happiness vs. sadness, anger vs. fear, trust vs. disgust, and surprise vs. anticipation. These emotions can then be combined in a variety of ways. For example, happiness and anticipation might combine to create excitement.
In order to better understand what emotions are, let’s focus on their three key elements.