Here’s something that caught my eye – a highly original classification of the emotions. This image is the work of Robert Plutchik, a psychologist who saw emotions, apparently as Darwin did, as playing a role in the evolution of animal life. He posited that all animals, including humans, share the “primary” emotions.
Those primary are the eight shown in the middle of the three circles of this figure, and he groups them as four pairs of opposites: fear vs. anger, surprise vs. acceptance, joy vs. sadness and acceptance vs. disgust. These occur at different levels of intensity – he shows the less intense in the outer circle and the most intense in the center. For example, the progression goes from annoyance to anger to rage, serenity to joy to ecstasy, acceptance to trust to admiration, etc. (I can’t see, though, how boredom is the less intense form of loathing – but there’s lots to quibble about here.)
He also proposed that all other emotions – like colors – are combinations of the eight primaries. Those “secondary” emotions appear in the white spaces between the colored spokes. So love is derived from a mixture of optimism and amazement, contempt from anger and disgust, awe from fear and surprise, and so on.
There’s a lot I don’t agree with in this classification. Partly, that may result from some of the name choices he makes, such as submission. That seems more appropriate word for the action that follows an emotion rather than the emotion itself. Some of the associations are questionable – why does boredom lead to disgust? It’s interesting, though, to think about this classification and how emotions are linked and blended.
I spent a while learning something by alternately agreeing and arguing with the whole thing. That was fun as well as instructive. I hope it works the same way for you.
What do you think of this?