Emotional Competency

Explore the Logic of Passion

Learn to recognize these emotions in yourself and others
Know how you feel

Each emotion serves as a primal beacon, guiding us along the difficult path of survival and procreation. Many researchers have worked to define emotions and have created their own lists of what they consider to be an emotion. Several of those lists are presented here. Use these lists and short descriptions to recognize the emotions you are feeling; then use the detailed description of each emotion to guide you toward the most constructive response. A subjective mood map locates each emotion according to the energy level and good-bad feelings often associated with it.

Seven Basic Emotions

Paul Ekman has dedicated his career to researching emotions, focusing primarily on these seven basic emotions.

  • Fear — Danger lurks
  • Sadness — Impending loss
  • Anger — An Urgent Plea for Justice and Action
  • Joy — Impending gain
  • Surprise — Unexpected event
  • Disgust — Contamination, toxic contact
  • Contempt — Substandard behavior or being

The following facial expressions are characteristic of these seven basic emotions throughout the world:









Surprise Disgust Contempt Fear Joy Sadness Anger

The Passion and Reason 15

Compass on a MapThe book Passion and Reason provides clear definitions and descriptions of 15 separate emotions. These are:

  • Anger — Conspecific threat, trespass, loss attributed to an agent, unjust insult, thwarted goals, plea for justice
  • Envy — Desiring other's stature objects
  • Jealousy — Threat to sexual access.
  • Fright — Concern for a future specific unpleasant event.
  • Anxiety — Concern for an unidentified unpleasant event.
  • Guilt — You have a standard and I did not meet it.
  • Shame — I have a standard and I did not meet it
  • Relief — Anticipated undesirable outcome has not occurred
  • Hope — Anticipation of future desirable event or outcome
  • Sadness — A specific undesirable outcome has occurred
  • Depression — lost hope
  • Happiness — A desirable event or outcome has occurred
  • Pride — I approve of my actions, I have met a standard (mine = smug, yours = authentic)
  • Love — Attraction and caring
  • Gratitude — Appreciating another's kindness
  • Compassion — Feeling the pain of another
  • Aesthetic Experience — Awe, wonder, and slight fear of nature and its creations.

The Rationalized 22

The book The Cognitive Structure of Emotions describes these 22 distinct emotions in an organized structure:

Appraisal of an event:

  • Joy — (contented, cheerful, delighted, ecstatic, elated, euphoric, feeling good, glad, happy, joyful, jubilant, pleasantly surprised, pleased) — Pleased by the appraisal of an event
  • Distress — (depressed, distressed, displeased, dissatisfied, distraught, feeling bad, feeling uncomfortable, grief, homesick, lonely, lovesick, miserable, regret, sad, shock, uneasy, unhappy, upset) — displeased by the appraisal of an event

Fortune of others:

  • Happy-for — (delighted-for, happy-for, pleased-for) — Pleased about an event desirable for another
  • Sorry-for — (compassion, pity, sad-for, sorry-for, sympathy) — Displeased about an event undesirable for another
  • Resentment — (envy, jealousy, resentment) — Displeased about an event desirable for another
  • Gloating — (gloating, Schadenfreude) — Pleased about an event undesirable for another

Appraisal of an agent's action:

  • Pride — (pride) — Approving of one’s own action
  • Shame — (embarrassment, feeling guilty, mortified, self-blame, self-condemnation, self-reproach, shame, (psychologically) uncomfortable, uneasy) — Disapproving of one’s own action
  • Admiration — (admiration, appreciation, awe, esteem, respect) — Approving of another’s action
  • Reproach — (appalled, contempt, despise, distain, indignation, reproach) — Disapproving of another’s action

Appraisal of an Object:

  • Love — (adore, affection, attracted-to, like, love) — Liking an appealing object
  • Hate — (aversion, detest, disgust, dislike, hate, loathe, repelled-by, revulsion) — Disliking an unappealing object

Appraisal of a possible future (prospective) event:

  • Hope — (anticipation, excitement, expectancy, hope, hopeful, looking forward to) — Pleased about a prospective desirable event
  • Fear — (apprehensive, anxious, cowering, dread, fear, fright, nervous, petrified, scared, terrified, timid, worried) — Displeased about a prospective undesirable event
  • Satisfaction — (gratification, hopes-realized, satisfaction) — Pleased about an confirmed desirable event
  • Relief —(relief) — Pleased about a disconfirmed undesirable event
  • Fears-confirmed — (fears-confirmed, worst fears realized) — Displeased about a confirmed undesirable event
  • Disappointment — (dashed-hopes, despair, disappointment, frustration, heartbroken) — Displeased about a disconfirmed desirable event

Compound Emotions:

  • Gratification — (gratification, pleased-with-oneself, self-satisfaction, smug) — Pride + joy
  • Gratitude — (appreciation, feeling indebted, thankful) — Admiration + joy
  • Anger — (anger, annoyance, exasperation, fury, incensed, indignation, irritation, livid, offended, outrage, rage) — Reproach + distress
  • Remorse — (penitent, remorse, self-anger) — Shame + distress

The Goleman Categories

In appendix “A” of his book Emotional Intelligence Daniel Goleman proposes these basic families of emotions:

  • Fear: (Safety) anxiety, apprehension, nervousness, concern, consternation, misgiving, wariness, qualm, edginess, dread, fright, terror and in the extreme cases phobia and panic.
  • Anger: (Justice) fury, outrage, resentment, wrath, exasperation, indignation, vexation, acrimony, animosity, annoyance, irritability, hostility, and perhaps these are manifest in the extreme as hatred and violence.
  • Sadness: (Loss) grief, sorrow, cheerlessness, gloom, melancholy, self-pity, loneliness, dejection, despair, and depression in the extreme case.
  • Enjoyment: (Gain) happiness, joy, relief, contentment, bliss, delight, amusement, pride, sensual pleasure, thrill, rapture, gratification, satisfaction, euphoria, whimsy, ecstasy, and at the far edge, mania.
  • Love: (Attraction) acceptance, friendliness, trust, kindness, affinity, devotion, adoration, infatuation, and agape.
  • Disgust: (Repulsion) contempt, distain, scorn, abhorrence, aversion, distaste, and revulsion
  • Surprise: (Attention) shock, astonishment, amazement, and wonder
  • Shame: (Self-control) guilt, embarrassment, chagrin, remorse, humiliation, regret, mortification, and contrition.

And Also:

It is likely that the variation and discrepancies among these lists result from a reification fallacy. The abstraction that we loosely call “emotion” is not real, it is not well-defined, and it most likely describes a composite of disparate real phenomenon that are not yet well understood.


In his 1991 book, Emotion and Adaptation, Richard Lazarus lists several mental states that may be emotion related, but are not themselves actual emotions. The list includes the complex states of: grief and depression; the ambiguous positive states of: expansiveness, awe, confidence, challenge, determination, satisfaction, and being pleased; the ambiguous negative states of: threat, frustration, disappointment, helplessness, meaningless, and awe; the mental confusion states of bewilderment and confusion; the arousal states of: excitement, upset, distress, nervousness, tension, and agitation; and finally the pre-emotions of: interest, curiosity, amazement, anticipation, alertness, and surprise.

Note he included “awe” and “depression” in the list of emotions described in his later book, Passion and Reason. Also, Paul Ekman includes “surprise” in his list of basic emotions.

Other mental states, such as bored, alert, drowsy, and trance are also not emotions.

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