Wheel of Emotion

Theory of emotion

I discovered a while ago something quite cool, it is called ‘Robert Plutchik‘s psychoevolutionary theory of emotion’ and he invented something from it called the ‘Wheel of Emotion’ shown below. As i have been so busy recently with posting i thought i would have a day off posting a massive post and instead post something graphical, colorful but also interesting as well, how are you feeling today? enjoy 🙂


The Wheel of Emotion consisted of 8 basic emotions and 8 advanced emotions each composed of 2 basic ones.

Basic Emotion Basic Opposite
Joy Sadness
Trust Disgust
Fear Anger
Surprise Anticipation
Sadness Joy
Disgust Trust
Anger Fear
Anticipation Surprise

This wheel is used to illustrate different emotions compelling and nuanced. Plutchik first proposed his cone-shaped model (3D) or the wheel model (2D) in 1980 to describe how emotions were related.

He suggested 8 primary bipolar emotions: joy versus sadness; anger versus fear; trust versus disgust; and surprise versus anticipation. Additionally, his circumplex model makes connections between the idea of an emotion circle and a color wheel. Like colors, primary emotions can be expressed at different intensities and can mix with one another to form different emotions.

Plutchik’s psychoevolutionary theory of basic emotions has ten postulates.

  • The concept of emotion is applicable to all evolutionary levels and applies to animals as well as to humans.
  • Emotions have an evolutionary history and have evolved various forms of expression in different species.
  • Emotions served an adaptive role in helping organisms deal with key survival issues posed by the environment.
  • Despite different forms of expression of emotions in different species, there are certain common elements, or prototype patterns, that can be identified.
  • There is a small number of basic, primary, or prototype emotions.
  • All other emotions are mixed or derivative states; that is, they occur as combinations, mixtures, or compounds of the primary emotions.
  • Primary emotions are hypothethical constructs or idealized states whose properties and characteristics can only be inferred from various kinds of evidence.
  • Primary emotions can be conceptualized in terms of pairs of polar opposites.
    All emotions vary in their degree of similarity to one another.
  • Each emotion can exist in varying degrees of intensity or levels of arousal.

For more information:
Robert Plutchik
Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotion

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3 thoughts on “Wheel of Emotion

  1. Great article Jay! I have never heard of the wheel of emotion before, but find the idea very interesting. I am going to read further on this topic. Thank you for pointing it out, Sandy.

  2. This is an interesting article Jay and makes sense really. The colorful picture to illustrate has almost a “chakra” feel to it lol. It’s interesting to look at the primary emotion and what it evolves into depending on the right catalysts etc., that come into play. For example trust may have a catalyst like a misunderstanding that is at first perceived as a lie. Instead of ending up at disgust, the normal progression is “interecepted” before it can manifest into disgust. Great post.

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