Our emotions are a reaction to an external event. Biochemical mechanisms in the brain result in feelings of sadness, fear, happiness, surprise, and more.
These emotions developed as a sort of survival of the fittest. They served the evolutionary purpose of helping us react to what was happening around us and survive.
Today, psychologists have distilled all emotions down to a collection of basic emotions linked to specific facial expressions.
These are universal emotions. Here’s how to recognize them and how they work.
What Are The 4 Core Emotions?
When it comes to emotions vs feelings, it’s important to recognize that emotions are our reaction to external stimuli. While a feeling is our interpretation of an emotion.
Recent research conducted at the University of Glasgow suggests there are only 4 core emotions. This study challenges the previous notion of 6 universal emotions proposed by American psychologist Paul Ekman.
Ekman’s classification of 6 core emotions is one of the more widely accepted and includes anger, fear, sadness, happiness, surprise, and disgust.
The Glasgow study groups emotions similarly. The researchers developed special software to analyze facial expressions. And they were able to connect certain emotions which Ekman considered as separate.
Specifically, they grouped surprise and fear together, along with disgust and anger. Why? Because of the similarity in their facial expressions.
According to the Glasgow study, the 4 core emotions are:
Do you see how Ekman’s 6 universal emotions regrouped?
What Are The 8 Core Emotions?
If you’d like to dive further than the four universal emotions, Psychologist Robert Plutchik’s wheel of emotions may help you improve your emotional intelligence.
Plutchik created a color-coordinated flower petal wheel to display 8 core emotions. The wheel also indicates the relationship between emotions.
Plutchik categorized the emotions as trust vs disgust, anger vs fear, surprise vs anticipation, and joy vs sadness.
The colors signify the intensities of the emotions, which grow stronger and darker as you get closer to the center of the circle. For example, joy becomes ecstasy, surprise becomes amazement, anger becomes a rage, and so on.
In addition, Plutchik’s wheel includes emotions which are not represented by a particular color. These are emotions that come from a combination of two core emotions.
For example, anticipation and joy create optimism. Joy and trust create love.
On the flip side, the combination of trust and fear results in submission, while anger and anticipation create aggressiveness.
Some would argue that emotional relationships are more complex than this. And it’s true. But Plutchik’s wheel provides a valuable insight into a few of our complex emotional states.
You can use the wheel as a basic guideline to understanding how emotions develop over time if left unchecked.
Choose the emotions you want to feel more in your life, make a recipe for the things that make you feel that way and then do more of that stuff.
-Jon Butcher, Author of Mindvalley’s Lifebook Program
If we can learn to identify the emotions we want to work on, that’s really half the battle.
Work to become more aware of your shifting emotional states and you’ll be well on your way to increase your emotional intelligence.
Is there an emotion that overpowers you? Do you have a strategy to cope with it? Share with us below.