Emowhat? - a brief overview of emotions
The importance of emotions
How are emotions created?
According to the two factor theory3 and similarly described in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), our emotions are based on a stimulus and arise through the interplay of physical arousal and a cognitive label.
In practice what this means is that we interpret the situation we’re in cognitively (we “think”), possibly connecting what we experience with our memory, and together with a sensation (“feeling”) in our body, this results in an emotion.
Looking at an example situation, let’s imagine that we walk home through a lonely street. We see a person in a long coat catching up to us (“stimulus”) which reminds us of a crime movie we watched recently (cognitive interpretation) and our heart starts beating faster (physical arousal). We experience fear.
What emotions do we experience?
Emotions can be described with words, and they can also be categorised according to their valence (is an emotion pleasant/positive or unpleasant/negative?) and activation (the energy level experienced with the emotion). The Circumplex of Emotions, a model originally proposed by psychologist James A. Russel in 1980, visualises emotions along these two axes. Within this system of coordinates, we can locate our emotional state and label the emotion without needing words.
1. Douglas, C., Ammeter, A. P., & Buckley, M. R. (2003). Emotional intelligence, leadership effectiveness, and team outcomes. The International Journal of Organizational Analysis, 11(1), 21-40.
2. Zeidner, M., Matthews, G., & Roberts, R. D. (2012). What we know about emotional intelligence: How it affects learning, work, relationships, and our mental health. MIT press.
metaFox deep pictures "World of Emotions"
A postcard set to develop emotional intelligence
deep pictures "World of Emotions" in action
For personal reflection and inspiration
The Emotions Compass - a guide to understanding thyself
The laminated high-quality printout can support the process of self-discovery, coaching, and therapy in:
- Self-discovery & for self-knowledge in everyday life
- Emotional intelligence and leadership coaching
- Non-violent communication training (Marshall Rosenberg)
- Social work and supervisions
- Therapy and related fields