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Sunday, 12 April 2015

Human Emotions - a new classification

My earlier March 30 blog on basic human emotions made me wonder why there would be more negative (5) than positive (3) human emotions. Nearly everything in life is based on symmetry and I sincerely doubt that symmetry would suddenly be gone when it comes to human emotions. Both Paul Ekman and Robert Plutchik use this symmetry. Nevertheless, Mr. Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions ultimately arrives at 5 negative and 3 positive human emotions (if submission even is an emotion).

After ample consideration and ample inner soul searching, I feel that emotions have a long-term baseline and that emotions also show temporary fluctuations. These temporary fluctuations typically show facial expressions (Paul Ekman: happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust). The intensity of these temporary emotional fluctuations may vary but not its nature (positive/negative).

Based upon the above I have come to the following (re)classification of emotions:

I have noticed in my relationships - and in myself - that memories (a.k.a. "emotional luggage") - and also expectations - can put a heavy burden on all other emotions as they are long-term, and that is why they come first. They create an optimistic or a pessimistic approach towards life in general which translates in basic happy or sad faces. I also recognise the various stages and fluctuations in my own emotions for the past years, the present and the future.

I feel that this diagram is helpful in understanding the concept of basic human emotions, and may also provide a tool for self-analysis, and progress.