Reading about the human mind, I sometimes come across attempts to classify human emotions using various scales. The one that comes to mind most often is the 6 scale circle model shown below.

Is there one or more models of human states of mind or emotions that as of 2014 is most accepted or best regarded by the fields of cogsci/psychology/psychiatry?

To clarify my question - using a model like that, any ordinary experience of "being" can be identified as consisting of various shades of different emotions represented by the model. ?

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or even an attempt to create a periodic table: enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ "best regarded" is a little bit broad. Would you mind narrowing it down to what criteria you would like these models to be evaluated with? $\endgroup$
    – Seanny123
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 2:45
  • $\begingroup$ A discrete system with applicability to general public would be the criteria I'm looking for. Given 100 people, such model would most closely and accurately define what these people are experiencing at the moment. Opposite to this are some psychiatric models, like the DSM that would not be applicable to general public, only people who cross a certain threshold. $\endgroup$
    – Alex Stone
    Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 1:57

2 Answers 2


There a are globally two perspectives

  • the discrete perspective uses a categorization system. There are many different systems, with more or less core emotions and sub-emotions. As the one shown in your post.

  • the dimensional perspective considers one, mainly two, sometimes more, scales to identify an emotional value. Valence (happy/sad) and arousal (sleepy/excited) are quite frequent for those models.

It's not so easy to choose between the two perspectives. And there are different models for each perspective. Discrete based models are easier to handle by anyone because they make use of usual names. But it suffers a bias of interpretation of those names meaning. In this way, indicating a level of valence or arousal is maybe more accurate, but less user-friendly.

For the dimensional perspective, Scherer's Component Process Model version (2005) is quite comprehensive, based on the updated model of Russell (2003).

Depending of the model, some tools are developed to assess the emotion.


Scherer, K. (2005) What are emotions and how can they be measured?

Russell, J. A. (2003). Core affect and the psychological construction of emotion. Psychological Review, 110, 145-172.

  • $\begingroup$ This is a very insightful answer. I've struggled with the idea of discrete vs dimensional aspects of a state of mind for some time, and you nicely explained that. $\endgroup$
    – Alex Stone
    Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 1:58

The recently published Atlas of personality, emotion and behaviour catalogues over 3,000 emotions (Mobbs, 2020). A summary of the emotions is below with a more comprehensive version included in the article. The atlas uses the dimensions of affiliation and dominance compared to the Russell model of affect and vallence. The article identifies the neurological and hormonal basis for the selection of affiliation and dominance as dimensions.


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

Russell, J. A., Lewicka, M., & Niit, T. (1989). A cross-cultural study of a circumplex model of affect. Journal of personality and social psychology, 57(5), 848. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.57.5.848

Declared Interest

I am the author of the atlas paper.


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