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Emotion is the complex psychophysiological experience of an individual’s state of mind as interacting with biochemical (internal) and environmental (external) influences. In humans, emotion fundamentally involves “physiological arousal, expressive behaviors, and conscious experience.” [1] Emotion is associated with mood, temperament, personality and disposition, and motivation. The English word emotion is derived from the French word émouvoir. This is based on the Latin emovere, where e- (variant of ex-) means “out” and movere means “move.”[2]

No definitive taxonomy of emotions exists, though numerous taxonomies have been proposed. [3] Some categorizations include:

  • “Cognitive” versus “non-cognitive” emotions
  • Instinctual emotions (from the amygdala), versus cognitive emotions (from the prefrontal cortex).
  • Categorization based on duration: Some emotions occur over a period of seconds (for example, surprise), whereas others can last years (for example, love).

As far as can be seen in publications, experts disagree on almost everything about classifying emotions.[4] VPA uses a list of 24 key emotions.

[1] Myers, David G. (2004) “Theories of Emotion.” Psychology: Seventh Edition, New York, NY: Worth Publishers, p. 500.
[2] See Philip Fisher (1999) Wonder, The Rainbow and the Aesthetics of Rare Experiences for an introduction.
[3] Wikipedia article on Emotions
[4] Scheff, Thomas J. (2005) “A Taxonomy of Emotions: How Do We Begin?” [Link]