Psychologists have recognized 8 types of emotions that the human has since birth, and that for years has tried to understand or analyze in its entirety. The process has been arduous and with some results, but not absolute or concrete for each human being.

First let’s see what an emotion is. An emotion is understood as a hypothetical construction based on psychological and physiological data. The basic emotions are considered physiological processes based on specific neuronal circuits.

An emotion is understood as a hypothetical construction based on psychological and physiological data.

In simpler words, emotions could be understood as psycho-physiological processes of our behavior that induce us to act in a certain way before stimuli.

These develop throughout life, starting from when we are children and interact with other individuals and our environment. Emotions ‘activate’ the brain and play a very important role in psychological and social development, although on the other hand, emotional disorders are also the main consequences of psychiatric or neurological disorders.



Robert Plutchik was a psychologist and professor emeritus at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. In his Wheel of Emotions, it shows the interpellation of human emotions, which consisted of 8 basic emotions and eight more advanced emotions, each one composed of two more basic emotions.

In this wheel of emotions, Plutchik focused on humans, but he also claimed that the animals themselves have also adapted their own emotions to adapt to their environment. The fear, the surprise, the sadness, the disgust, the anger, the hope, the joy and the acceptance were the ones that basically shaped the human being and made him adapt to the demands of the environment.

Let’s see what are the 8 types of basic emotions:

1. Joy . Whose opposite emotion is sadness.

2. Trust . Its opposite emotion is the Aversion.

3. Fear . His opposite emotion is anger.

4. Surprise . Anticipation is your opposite emotion.

5. Sadness . With its opposite that is joy.

6. Aversion . With confidence as its opposite.

7. Anger . His opposite emotion is fear.

8. Anticipation . Whose opposite emotion is surprise.

The emotions of this wheel are presented in a structural model in the shape of a cone, grouped according to their similarity, maintaining the opposing emotion at 180 degrees. Paying attention to the figure we can realize that the emotions increase in intensity as they approach the center. Anger is a state lighter than anger and, of course, anger. The same happens with serenity, joy in the second level and ecstasy as extreme emotion.

Plutchik’s wheel of emotions


In his approach, Plutchik pointed out that different emotions could be combined with each other. As for example, hope with joy, surprise with sadness, etc. That is to say, although we have 8 universal, basic or primary emotions, the human is capable of reflecting many more. However, it is not possible to visualize an emotion in the same way in each person.

For the combined emotions an algorithm was implemented that uses the model proposed by Whissell, always based on Plutchik’s wheel of emotions to mix the primary emotions to obtain new emotions, something very similar to the mixture of primary colors, which combined create more and more colors.

Although we have 8 universal emotions, the human is able to reflect many more.


Psychologist Susana Bloch, author of books such as ‘The Dawn of Emotions’ or ‘Surfing the Emotional Wave’, has investigated the respiratory and post-facial patterns of basic emotions in humans. He identified that each emotion is manifested with a body posture, facial and a breathing pattern that helps others to know the emotional state of the other.

Breathing during emotions is very interesting; because with each of them there is a difference in the amplitude of the movements of the diaphragm, in the breathing pauses and in the degree of tension of the intercostal muscles (located in the anterior and lateral part of the thorax).


The Facial Coding System (FACS) and Action Units (AUs) study how facial muscle movements influence the expression of an emotion.

The FACS have served to taxonomize the facial movements that can be seen at a glance, including head movements, eye movements, among others a little more complex and variable. Its main codes are based on 44 types of basic movements, which serve to create any emotion.


As we know, an expression of joy is not the same as that of sadness or even of surprise. We know when a person was happy for his unexpected surprise party, unlike another who already knew.

Based on detailed analysis, the main muscles that intervene in the display of an expression, which goes hand in hand with emotions, were identified.

1. Inner frontal muscle: raise the eyebrows by moving the scalp anteriorly. Wrinkle the forehead horizontally.

2. External frontal muscle: elevates the outer part of the eyebrows.

3. Frontal muscle: it also raises the eyebrows but forms a more prominent and defined arch.

4. Superciliary corrugator muscle: it is located in the inner part of the superciliary arch and joins the eyebrows when we frown.

5. Greater zygomatic: it is placed on the cheek and has the shape of a rectangle. Move the corners of the upper lips laterally when smiling or laughing.

6. Depressor of the angle of the mouth: it is a triangular muscle of the lips that moves down the corner of the mouth.

7. Elevator of the angle of the mouth: it elevates the commissure of the mouth and the upper lip, so that it pushes part of the cheek towards the eye.

8. Elevator of the upper lip and the wing of the nose: it is thin and it is located in the lateral part of the nose. The nasolabial sulcus rises and deepens.

9. Orbicular of the eye: they are in front of the eye orbit and it is activated when smiling.

10. The jaw has several small and active secondary muscles, the masseter being one of the main ones. It is used to tighten the teeth and raise the jaw. An expression that represents it is fear.

Some have debated in determining which is the most expressive muscular element of the face: the eyes or the mouth. Most agree that it is the mouth, since containing more muscles causes a greater number of movements to be generated.



Before so many types of emotions, those of positive use and negative use have been identified.

Among the first we can name joy, ecstasy, optimism, satisfaction and pleasure, among others. These help us to wellness and lead a healthier life.

Among the negative emotions we have anger, hatred, fear and sadness, among others. Having these types of emotions is not wrong, as long as they are not part of our daily life, otherwise they can cause diseases , problems of socialization and an undesirable quality of life. The type of people who usually manifest negative emotions with perseverance, are called ‘toxic’.

Ambiguous emotions are another type of classification not so well known. They are characterized because they can be both positive and negative depending on the circumstances. The most common example is the surprise, since it can be presented by a positive news or by a negative.





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