Three Dimensions of Emotion

(image from Fractal.org)

People exhibit a huge range of emotions and it can be a bewildering challenge to ascribe unique meaning to each emotional state that a person might find themselves in. A framework for analyzing emotional states can help us understand emotions by decomposing them into underlying dimensions.

Three key dimensions appear to be:

  1. Valence: positive vs. negative
  2. Activation: ready-to-act/aroused vs. relaxed
  3. Power: dominant vs. submissive


We can describe almost any human emotion using these three dimensions or axes. E.g., “admiration” could be considered a positive, aroused, submissive emotion. Or “boredom” could be considered a negative, relaxed, dominant emotion.

The “valence” of emotions is usually pretty straightforward for us to immediately grasp.  “Activation” and “power”, though, may not typically spring to mind for most people when trying to analyze emotions.  Yet thinking about the activation and power dimensions of any emotion can help us recognize and adapt to emotionally-driven urges and impulses.


3 Comments on “Three Dimensions of Emotion”

  1. mercerd says:

    interesting material, where such topics do you find? I will often go

  2. Marcelle says:

    Hi there,
    I really enjoy this image you have about the 3 dimensions of emotional states. It’s something I’ve been curious about for a long time and enjoy learning more about.

    You’re site is very helpful to me and I am eager to learn more.

    Best,
    Marcelle

  3. [...] FrameThink comments: “People exhibit a huge range of emotions and it can be a bewildering challenge to ascribe unique meaning to each emotional state that a person might find themselves in. A framework for analyzing emotional states can help us understand emotions by decomposing them into underlying dimensions. [...]


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,420 other followers