Open Thread: Representative Emotions

(by Lonespark as dimly remembered by chris the cynic)

It’s a recurring trope in fiction to have emotions personified, but when this is done usually there isn’t an attempt to include all emotions.  The current movie Inside Out uses five.  (As compared to the eighty one considered significant enough to be in the emotions navigation box at Wikipedia.)

The question, to the best of my ability to remember it, is this:

If you had to pick a small number (i.e. not an exhaustive list) of emotions to attempt represent/describe people’s emotions as a whole, which ones would they be?

[As a reminder, open thread prompts are meant to inspire conversation, not stifle it. Have no fear of going off topic for there is no off topic here.]

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10 thoughts on “Open Thread: Representative Emotions

  1. DawnM June 28, 2015 at 10:02 am

    (The topic of emotions brought this memory up.)

    Once upon a time, I was in a play that was set in hell. I was one of the damned souls. As our torment, we were encased into a piano and a demon jumped on the keys (like in the movie Big) to make us scream the note.

    The song the demon played, which we got to sing, was about the seven deadly sins set to the tune of Doh-Re-Mi from The Sound of Music:

    Let’s start at the very beginning.
    Thats a very fine place to start.
    When we first saw Eden there was Adam and Eve
    The first two sins were Lust and Greed
    Greed and Lust
    The first two sins were Greed and Lust
    Greed Lust Anger Pride Envy Sloth Glutton-Y

    When you know what key it’s in
    You can sing each deadly sin

    Dough, or cash, the sin of greed
    Ray, a man to lust about
    Me, myself, the sin of pride
    Fu-, an angry word to shout
    So much envy I can see
    La-zy is a word for sloth
    Tea, a drink with gluttony
    And that brings us back to Dough or Greed

    (Counterpoint)
    Greed and Lust
    Anger, Pride
    Envy, Sloth
    Gluttony

  2. lonespark42 June 30, 2015 at 8:57 am

    This seems like a very interesting concept to explore, yet I’m having trouble thinking of much to say.

    If I think about what motivates me, Fear is an absolute must. And Desire, and Curiosity, unless Curiosity is somehow a subset of Desire, like desire for knowledge/experience? And Pride.

    I want to say Shame, but I think Shame is a subset of Fear, like fear of judgement (especially including your own?)

    I guess Hunger and Tiredness aren’t emotions, but they do motivate a lot of things I do…

    And also something about overstimulation/being overwhelmed/short circuiting your thinking? Though maybe, if we use the Inside Out model, that would be like something that draws to much power and disables the command center.

    I guess also Love and Joy, or maybe they’re kind of the same thing?

    I will have to think about this more…

  3. DawnM July 1, 2015 at 6:01 am

    More vaguely related to emotions…

    I’ve been posting on the mood wall a lot lately

    http://www.notmyselftoday.ca/for-individuals/badges/

    I like the excercise of thinking of precise words to describe how I feel at a given moment. It’s like a mindfulness moment combined with a vocabulary practice combined with an aesthetic expression.

    I like to see what other anonymous people are posting, too, trying to imagine what’s going on in their lives to prompt the badges they create.

  4. froborr July 1, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    The apparent consensus among psychologists is that there are six basic emotional responses from which other emotions are built: anger, fear, disgust, happiness, sadness, and surprise.

    However, there are also claims that there are only four–that surprise/fear and anger/disgust are variants on one another. Mostly based on the fact that they are similar facial expressions.

    Personally I would add Want to the list.

  5. Only Some Stardust July 1, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    I would be more interested in what neurologists rather than psychologists have to say on the subject, personally speaking; a surprising number of psychologists don’t even look at the brain, their object of study. No other field of science doesn’t bother to look at its own subject.

    In such a case, I am fairly sure anger/rage, ‘seeking’ drive (curiosity), lust, fear, and sadness are all different as far as the brain is concerned and can all be artificially induced, and in some animals additional emotions might be added, such as prey drive: the urge to pay attention to moving objects and pounce on them. Your mileage may vary on what to define as an ’emotion’, though.

    In an experiment, monkeys able to directly stimulate their own seeking drive by pressing a button never wanted to stop, rather than getting the ‘reward’ the seeking drive aimed them toward, so it seems satisfying seeking drive is more likely to cause happiness than anything else.

    This is partially responsible for gambling addiction: it isn’t the actual prize your brain wants, it’s the thrill.

  6. froborr July 2, 2015 at 3:24 am

    I would be more interested in what neurologists rather than psychologists have to say on the subject, personally speaking; a surprising number of psychologists don’t even look at the brain, their object of study.

    The brain is the object of study of neurology, not psychology. Psychology is the study of human thought and behavior.

    It’s like complaining that a lot of computer programmers don’t know electrical engineering.

  7. arbitrary_greay July 2, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    It’s like complaining that a lot of computer programmers don’t know electrical engineering.

    If we’re talking defining the basic emotions, this analogy doesn’t apply.
    In this case, defining the vocabulary based on behaviors, independent of the biological factors interpreted by our brains as emotions, is more like studying the features of Microsoft Word and trying to conclude from that if VBA has only the int and char variable types vs. int, dbl, long, char, and string.

    (Or closer to your original analogy, a computer programmer formulating a new computer coding language without knowing electrical engineering. I may be making my own word salad and definition nitpicking here, but a programmer that doesn’t need to know about the hardware would be more akin to sociology than psychology. And there are branches of programming that require working in hand with the hardware, such as in the early days of videogame design.)

  8. Only Some Stardust July 4, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    Yes, exactly. ^^^ I don’t mean to rant, but I think the subject is cool so I’m going to blather:

    I’ve actually done a liiiittle bit of very low level programming before (game boy) and enjoy reading the work of much more skilled programmers, and sometimes opening things up with a hex editor (I admit it, I’m a hacker; I loved Pikachu so much I had to make it follow me in Fire-red just like it did in Yellow…). You need to know the difference between what’s hard written in and what isn’t, or if your bugs are results from hard ware limitations or issues with your software. Lots of game boy ‘bugs’ are hard ware limitations, but some are kind of a mix between hard ware and soft ware bugs. The infamous Pokemon Missingno bug from Pokemon Red/Blue is a result of memory limitations of the hardware AND programming, as well as Glitch City.

    But, when we’re talking about not looking at hardware at all before doing software (not even having low level ‘programmers’ take a look at it) that’s like not even knowing what operating system you have or what programming language you’re using . Take the case of a real life serial killer who suddenly became enraged and started shooting people. What’s a psychologist to do? Nothing: it was a brain tumor, which they only learned because his last request was to have his brain examined.

    And in the case of emotions? The psychologists didn’t guess about the seeking drive, but we know that’s there because we did studies on the actual brain. It’s a major driver of human and animal behavior, and it didn’t make the list of primary emotions psychologists guessed at. Some things just cannot be done without looking at your hardware / operating system and knowing what it’s capable of.

    I’m not saying all psychologists should be neurologists, just that they should try actually scanning their subjects first off and make sure they don’t have a gigantic tumor, gaping holes in the brain, or something. Two different kinds of depression can have the same symptoms but look very, very different under a brain scan (and require different treatment). Checking to see if you are running Windows or Linux does not require a Masters in Electrical Engineering.

  9. Only Some Stardust July 4, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    * But, when we’re talking about not looking at hardware at all before doing software (not even having low level ‘programmers’ take a look at it) that’s like not even knowing what operating system you have or what programming language you’re using

    okay, that sentence is less than coherent. I meant in this analogy, it’s more like not knowing your operating system or programming language, which is technically software too. Neurologists aren’t just studying the biological makeup of the brain (hardware) they’re also studying what stimulus to individual bits does (like hex editing / changing 1s and 0s) or what activity is going on (like a debugger program does). Wait, there you go. Not looking at brain activity is like trying to program without a debugger that tells you what code is being executed or what ‘silent’ errors are creeping up; a pain in the butt and sometimes downright impossible.

  10. Firedrake July 20, 2015 at 6:39 am

    Salt, sweet, bitter, sour, and umami?

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