Two Base Emotions

Created: August 11, 2023
Updated: August 11, 2023

According to the circumflex model of #emotion, humans have two base emotions: Pleasure and Arousal.

Emotion 1: Pleasure seeking/Pain avoidance

We seek to feed ourselves, avoid the pain of hunger.

We chase dopamine and feel-good chemicals, and we give ourselves electric shocks to step boredom – the absence of a stimulus.

Emotion 2: Arousal

This means attention, you pervert. We can have a lingering pain we’ve tuned our or one we have major attention towards.

Emotions are plotted on the Arousal vs Pleasure scale

You can plot any emotion on these axes.

Anger might be experiencing a high attention to a painful feeling. But, you might already be sensing an issue. With that simplistic model, how do you differentiate between Sadness and Anger. Both are painful in their own way, and a human can be aroused to both.

That’s where the third emotional axis was added.

Bonus Emotion: Dominance

The model of emotion has expanded to include a third dimension.

Anger is a dominant negative emotion, one in which we seek to dominate our environment. But sadness is a submissive emotion. We rarely exert sadness upon the world.