Disclaimer- I had asked this question in the Math stack exchange, but was encouraged to ask it here.

I'm working on creating an emotional calculator of sorts, for personal use, wherein, whenever I am stressed, I can pretty much figure out what to do to feel better.

I'll be using the Emotional Equations book by Chip Conley (summary here: https://blas.com/emotional-equations/) as a point of reference.

here's my question:

Let's take the following equation as an example:

Let's say I interviewed for a job and now am anxious about whether or not I will get it.

Anxiety = Uncertainty $\times$ Powerlessness

To make myself feel better, if I focus on the Powerlessness variable, then I can do many things to make myself feel better. For example: I could apply for more jobs, go take a walk, go for a run, etc.

However, each of those things will not help me in the same way. They will each have different "proportions of powerlessness" to offer, so to speak. So, if I go get ice cream, sure I'll feel a little better, but I'm sure I'll be anxious an hour after eating that ice cream. So, on a scale of 1-10, it will probably reduce powerlessness by 0.5 or 1, whereas if I apply for more jobs, for example, it will reduce powerlessness by 7-8.

What math principle/logic/practice can I use to calculate how much something (eating ice cream) can affect powerlessness?

Thank you! Apologies for the long question.


2 Answers 2


Attempting to reduce emotional responses to mathematics is likely in the realm of chaos theory.

Here is a great Robert Sapolsky Stanford lecture on Chaos versus Reductionism.



Chip Conley's ideas as to emotional equations represent an interesting concept; however, the equations do not appear to be founded in science at this stage. To represent the equations mathematically would first require to ability to measure each of component of the equations. Measuring psychological concepts is fraught with issues at this stage and a great deal theoretical research is ongoing (see references below).

Notwithstanding the methodological issues, the equations are certainly thought provoking:

  • Emotions = Life

  • Emotion = Energy + Motion

  • Event + Reaction = Outcome

  • Despair = Suffering – Meaning

  • Disappointment = Expectations – Reality

  • Regret = Disappointment + Responsibility

  • Jealousy = Mistrust / Self-Esteem

  • Joy = Love – Fear

  • etc.


Adroher, N. D., Prodinger, B., Fellinghauer, C. S., & Tennant, A. (2018). All metrics are equal, but some metrics are more equal than others: A systematic search and review on the use of the term “metric.” PloS One, 13(3), e0193861. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0193861

Boag, S. (2015). Personality assessment, “construct validity”, and the significance of theory. Personality and Individual Differences, 84, 36–44. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2014.12.039

Borsboom, D., Mellenbergh, G. J., & van Heerden, J. (2003). The theoretical status of latent variables. Psychological Review, 110(2), 203–219. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.110.2.203

Nowland, T., Beath, A., & Boag, S. (2019). Objectivity, realism, and psychometrics. Measurement, 145, 292–299. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.measurement.2019.05.038

Conley, C. (2012). Emotional equations: Simple truths for creating happiness+ success. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 1451607261


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