As far as modern psychology is concerned, do we have a "standard" set of emotions agreed upon by academics? For example, happiness, anger, sadness, etc. Is there a single list that contains all emotions?

Also please pardon my novice understanding of psychology for this next question, but is there also a standard set of cognitive functions? For example, Carl Jung proposed the following:

Extroversion: An attitude defining the self in accordance to the standard of the external world.

Introversion: An attitude defining the outer world in accordance to the standard of the self.

Intuition: Abstract perception of the environment.

Sensing: Concrete perception of the environment.

Thinking: Impersonal assessment.

Feeling: Person-centered assessment.

Is there a more modern understanding of these functions? And has academia been able to agree on a particular set?

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    $\begingroup$ Hi, It is easier to ask only one question per post. Otherwise the question will be too broad and answers will become extremely long and/or complex. If you could separate your two questions into two posts that would be great :) $\endgroup$ Commented May 5, 2017 at 5:31
  • $\begingroup$ Regarding the standard set of emotions, I have heard that there is still a lot of discussion going on between scientists. Some argue for five, some argue for over 20. The latter would have made the movie "inside out" rather difficult. A quote: "There is no scientific consensus about how many emotions there are," he says. "At one point, we fooled around with having 27 different emotions." And all of them had names: Sadness was called Misty, Anger was Ira, Fear was Freddie." $\endgroup$ Commented May 5, 2017 at 5:36
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    $\begingroup$ The set of emotions or cognitive functions depends on the theory. That there is a standard would be premature. Some theories suggest virtually infinite emotions, others a basic six or seven. What you're probably wanting is a unified theory of psychology, and some examples of this exist (e.g., predicting coding/active inference). $\endgroup$
    – mrt
    Commented May 5, 2017 at 7:10

1 Answer 1


There is no "standard" set of emotions or cognitive functions. The set depends on the theory.

For example, some theories of emotion posit a basic six or seven (e.g., Ekman), while allowing room for many more "non-basic" emotions (e.g., Izard). Others suggest that there are virtually infinite emotions and that none are basic (e.g., Barrett, Russell).

Similarly, for cognitive functions, some theories attempt to unify them under a basic set of brain computations (e.g., predictive coding, Friston). Others list a bunch like your Jung example.

It's important to keep in mind that emotions and cognitive functions are just concepts. We can carve up the functions of the brain in a million different ways (concepts) and arrive at a different set of emotions and cognitions each time. All of these could simultaneously be useful and explanatory. Which one you choose depends on your assumptions, biases, experimental questions, methods, and so on.

Relevant sources:

Ekman, P., & Cordaro, D. (2011). What is meant by calling emotions basic. Emotion Review, 3(4), 364-370.

Barrett, L. F. (2006). Are emotions natural kinds?. Perspectives on psychological science, 1(1), 28-58.

Izard, C. E. (2007). Basic emotions, natural kinds, emotion schemas, and a new paradigm. Perspectives on psychological science, 2(3), 260-280.

Barrett, L. F., & Russell, J. A. (2014). The psychological construction of emotion. Guilford Publications.

Clark, A. (2013). Whatever next? Predictive brains, situated agents, and the future of cognitive science. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 36(03), 181-204.

Friston, K. (2010). The free-energy principle: a unified brain theory?. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 11(2), 127-138.


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