Have you ever heard of the wheel of emotions, and how they can give you an idea of all human feelings? Take this wheel of emotions quiz to find out!
Randy Ingermanson once said that people read books because they want to have an emotional experience. While that’s certainly true of “Twilight”, I think it holds true for all books. Even books about negative characters can be interesting to us because of their emotional content due to what James Scott Bell calls a “‘car wreck’ dynamic”.
Ironically, even though we’ve all experienced many, many emotions throughout our lives, few humans are experts. So, depicting them in our stories can seem an impossible task. However, as with most things, we can learn to be better at emotions.
But where to begin? Emotions are complicated and confusing. Consider these obstacles:
- Many lists of emotions have been generated, yet no matter how much they overlap, they never quite converge. Some are even in conflict with one another.
- There is no agreed-upon method to organize emotions. Do emotions resemble a list, a tree structure, or a three-dimensional shape? Can they even be visualized?
- There is no agreed-upon method to name emotions. What someone calls “Joy” is called “Happiness” by another.
- As if this weren’t complex enough, there also seem to be levels of intensity to emotions. What is the difference between Affection, Love, and Ecstasy but the level of intensity?
- Emotions seem to somehow blend together to form new emotions that are distinct from their progenitors.
- Even Wikipedia, a site that normally excels at harnessing the collective knowledge of the human race, fails to adequately deliver on a comprehensive list and understanding of emotions. The current list includes 80 separate emotions yet many overlaps. And some are, well, foreign. Schadenfreude anyone?
Want to take another interesting quiz about emotions? Read This Quiz Will Reveal The True Color Of Your Personality!
So, how can emotions be classified so that we better understand them, and understanding them better use them in our writings? I believe psychologist and researcher Robert Plutchik who spent decades studying emotions has the answer. Plutchik’s research yielded some amazing discoveries about emotions including a comprehensive list of eight primary emotions arranged as opposing pairs. Observe:
- Joy vs Sadness
- Trust vs Disgust
- Fear vs Anger
- Surprise vs Anticipation
He also visualized this list as a wheel of sorts, referred to by some as Plutchik’s Flower:
Analogous to a color wheel, variations in color intensity correspond to variations in emotional intensity. Thus, the eight primary emotions occupy the middle ring of the flower with more intense forms occurring in the center (note the bolder colors) and milder forms the extremities (note the paler colors). For example, “Rage” is the stronger form of “Anger” while “Annoyance” is the weaker.
Also, note that the two-dimensional flower can fold into a spinning top shape as shown in the upper-left corner. The tip of the top and the center of the flower is the point of emotional zero.
Plutchik’s approach satisfies our needs by providing:
- a semantically-consistent set of distinct emotions
- an organizational structure
- a standard set of names
Plutchik’s approach satisfies our expectations by providing:
- levels of intensity in emotions
- the blending of primary emotions to form new ones
- the concept of emotional “opposites” as mutually exclusive pairs
- a blank, non-emotional state
In summary, Robert Plutchik left us a deep legacy. Next time I’ll write about blending emotions. This is where the really interesting stuff happens and which can be directly applied to the process of writing.
The Colors You Choose In The Famous Wheel Of Emotions Can Determine Who You Are (QUIZ)
According to Prof. Robert Plutchik’s emotional wheel – there are 8 primary emotions, and each one of them has its own color. Take this 8-question test based on his research, and discover who you really are!
If you want to know more about the wheel of emotions, then check this video out below: