To the best of my understanding, the five factor model of personality comes from a factor analysis on a large list of adjectives that can be used to describe an individual's personality. It is validated, in some sense, by its usefulness in predicting behavior and life outcomes in a wide range of contexts.

It seems like something very similar could be done for emotion. I.e. list words describing a persons present state (angry, remorseful, sad, bitter, frustrated, etcetera) and do a factor analysis on those. Then, see if the resulting model (assuming that the analysis yields something useful) is predictive of shorter term / state dependent behavior.

Has any work like this been done?

  • $\begingroup$ Does this answer your question? What is the most comprehensive system of describing human emotions or states of mind? $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Jun 17 at 19:12
  • $\begingroup$ @BryanKrause That's very helpful, but I don't think it fully answers the question. The use of factor analysis gives the big 5 a nice statistical foundation where you can say such and such roughly orthogonal factors explain a certain amount of variance. I was hoping for something similar here. But maybe there isn't a strong analog to the big 5? $\endgroup$ – user37344 Jun 17 at 20:21

The recently published Atlas of personality, emotion and behaviour is possibly what you are looking for(Mobbs, 2020). Over 3,000 emotions are included in the analysis, a summary of which is below. The article has a more comprehensive version. The five factor model was derived through factorisation whereas the atlas was developed using a lexical/network approach.


Mobbs AED (2020) An atlas of personality, emotion and behaviour. PLOS ONE 15(1): e0227877. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0227877

Declared Interest

I am the author of the atlas paper.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for sharing this. It does appear to meet several of the criteria. $\endgroup$ – user37344 Jun 18 at 1:04

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