Everything to know about “The emotional wheel”: Strategies, framework and much more

Everything to know about “The emotional wheel”: Strategies, framework and much more


You will be astonished to know that humans have around 34000 emotions, which makes them unique and special (also complicated). With such varied emotions in a person, it is usually difficult to figure out what we are feeling and often get lost in the turbulence of so many emotions. Managing and understanding different emotions is never easy, and that's where the emotions wheel comes as a savior or at least a torch to guide you to your feeling.

The emotional wheel is a widely used tool/procedure that helps you understand your feeling and give a name to it. Thus it helps you regulate your feelings. This wheel of emotions helps you identify your feeling and give a name to it when you fall short of words to explain what and how you are feeling.

For example, it could be that you recently lost your job, and right now, you are feeling something mixed with anger, sadness, anxiety, and other emotions as well.

Psychologists and therapists use this emotion wheel to help their patients open up and say about their present feelings when they cannot describe themselves. This is because people often have got a very limited emotional vocabulary, and it is often difficult for someone to express their emotions, even poets and writers.

The emotion wheel showcases eight basic emotions and then dives deeper into them. The eight emotions described in the wheel of emotions are- anger, disgust, fear, sadness, surprise, trust, joy, and anticipation.

These eight core emotions will gradually help you build up your emotional literacy and introduce you to the actual feeling you are searching for. After studying emotions and their outlooks, for years, an American Psychologist, Dr. Robert Plutchik, came up with this chart of 8 primary emotions that will slowly lead you to the 34000 emotions a person can feel.

Plutchik's wheel of emotions aims to navigate these hard explained emotions through the eight basic emotions that were explained before. He tried to describe the theory of emotions through an emotional color wheel, which is an illustration of different emotions.

Plutchik explains these eight primary bipolar emotions as a connecting link between the idea of an emotion circle and a color wheel. He tries to express intense feelings such as fear and the outcome of these feelings, such as in the case of fear, it is flight or fight.

Describing emotion is a difficult task, and you are not alone in it. This usually leaves people overwhelmed or confused because knowing oneself is never easy, but once you know what feeling is affecting you right now, you shall know how to act, and it shall help you live a better life.

The wheel of emotions: Robert Plutchik


The ten postulates of the basic psycho evolutionary theory based on Plutchik's wheel of emotions –

1. This concept of emotions applies to all animals and humans as well.

2. Every emotion can exist in various intensity scales and to various degrees.

3. All the emotions are somewhat similar and connected.

4. Emotions, like humans, have also undergone several evolutionary changes.

5. Though every person has got a different way to express emotions, a prototype pattern and common elements are always identified.

6. Some primary emotions can be paired as polar opposites.

7. The numbers of basic or prototype emotions are very less.

8. Every emotion occurs as a combination and mixture of many different emotions.

9. Primary emotions are hypothetical and are inferred from various kinds of shreds of evidence.

10. Emotions have always played an adaptive role during environmental changes.

The Plutchik emotion wheel has arranged the eight-core emotions into opposite pairs in his emotion wheel chart. He has paired sadness with joy, anger with fear, expectations with surprise, and acceptance with disgust.

The basic color wheel of emotion created by Robert Plutchik starts from all the primary emotions and then intensifies and becomes milder to form a combined emotional state.

What is Plutchik's wheel of emotions?

The emotional wheel created by Plutchik offers a visual representation of every primary and secondary emotion in the form of a feeling wheel. The wheel is designed in a circular form, which has got the central emotion in the middle and three different degrees of each emotion in every section. In the wheel of emotion, each emotion is color-coded, ranging from dark to light colors.

For example, in the color emotion wheel, rage is colored as dark red, annoyance is colored in a pink tone, and anger is a lighter shade of red.

Outside the flower-shaped emotion color wheel, there are eight dyad combinations of behaviors that are associated with different emotions.

They are –

Anger + anticipation = aggressiveness

Anticipation + joy = optimism

Joy + trust = love

Trust + fear = submission

Fear + surprise = awe

Surprise + sadness = disapproval

Sadness + disgust = remorse

Disgust + anger = contempt

There are different emotional levels apart from eight-core emotions. This eight emotions chart is prepared in such a way that all the primary emotions are physically positioned in opposition to their actual opposite on the wheel.

Additionally, each emotion space contains three different degrees. The eight primary emotions in a polar opposite form were created by Plutchik in this order –

Joy and Sadness

Fear and Anger

Trust and Disgust

Anticipation and surprise

This emotions wheel has been used for ages to navigate and understand the different intensities of emotions that we come across. Although it is nearly impossible to identify and study all the 34000 emotions in a book, the method of sorting out the eight primary emotions made things easier for everyone.

The framework of the Emotional Wheel

The emotional wheel chart has got three elements –


All the eight basic emotions in the mood wheel are assigned a color in the Emotion wheel. The intensity of the color decreases with the decrease in the intensity of the emotion.

However, not any color is assigned to the combination of two primary emotions. Primary emotions hold the second circle position in the emotions color wheel.


The circle of emotions is made in such a way that the opposing emotions to show some similarities. As it's a circle, all the emotions are seen to be in mutual contact with one another—the place where the primary emotions mix is depicted as spaces in between the basic emotions.


The emotional wheel has got various dimensions and different layers. As one move to the center of the wheel, the color intensifies, which means that the emotion becomes significant.

Likewise, moving outward in the circle, the color becomes less saturated, and thus the intensity of the emotions lowers down.

For example – at the center of the feelings wheel, the primary emotions are seen to change themselves, such as anger turns into rage, disgust into loathing, and much more.

Emotion Wheel Chart

The emotion color wheel has been made in such a way that every emotion has been assigned a unique color. After all the eight primary emotions are connected, a wheel-like appearance can be drawn out.

Thus the name has been given as the "Emotional Wheel." There are a total of 32 emotions that are designed in the two-dimensional emotion circle, which includes eight core emotions and the rest secondary emotions.

The Robert Plutchik emotion wheel can be displayed both in two dimensions and three dimensions. The flat, two-dimensional diagram includes eight segments for the eight primary emotions, including anger, joy, trust, fear, anticipation, sadness, disgust, and surprise.

Each segment of the Plutchik's wheel of emotions has got opposing emotions with its color assigned. The parts that are not colored are designed as a mixture of primary emotions.

For example,- disgust and anger combine to form contempt. The three-dimensional color wheel of emotions is conical shaped.

The vertical dimension focuses on the intensity of emotion. There are different levels of emotions explained in the three-dimensional model of the emotional circle.

The ultimate use of this 3-D wheel is to guide the person and help him deal with all the emotions in his real-life situation. This wheel of emotion shows that if emotions are not controlled at the right time, they tend to run high, become more intense, and thus destructive.

DR. Robert Plutchik's wheel: how to use Plutchik's wheel of emotions

If you are wondering how to use Plutchik's wheel of emotions, then this is the part that will guide you through the process.

The beauty of Plutchik's wheel of emotions is such that it has got different emotion levels that can solve complex emotions simply and easily. This tool is so much into use because it helps a person to visualize all the emotions and understand the root cause of the emotion that has been born.

Although there is no "wrong way" to use the emotion color wheel, here are some tips and guidance for someone who is using the wheel for the first time –

Try to find your core and basic emotion

Finding an approximate emotion will help you start with the wheel. As you can notice that all the feelings are arranged on color-coordinated spokes in the feeling wheel, they form three layers of emotions.

The different levels of emotion are fitted in three layers of emotions are –

Outer edge –

At the outer edge line of the printable emotion wheel, you will come across low-intensity emotions such as acceptance, boredom, distraction, and so on.

At the center circle –

The center of the circle has the most intense manifestation of feelings list, which includes loathing, amazement, admiration, and much more.

From the outer edge towards the center –

As one moves from the outer edge to the inner center of the circle, the color keeps on getting more intense. The emotion type in this area is usually mild and calmer, such as trust, surprise, disgust, and so on.

In between two colored spokes –

The non-colored areas between two colored spoke include mixed emotions such as anger and disgust mixes and forms contempt.

Try to find out possible causes

By now, you will have found out a vague idea of the emotion that you are feeling. Now you need to dig deeper into the emotions circle. Most of us have a habit of pushing down emotions, and in such a case, this feelings wheel shall come into handy.

Usually, the emotion that you are feeling right now comes as a result of many sequences of emotions and events. All the emotions have an origin, even if you have no idea of it. Start by putting a name to your emotion from the wheel of emotion chart and then try to gradually retrace its path backward to find out its origin.

The Robert Plutchik wheel of emotions will help you find out the root cause of your emotion and help you untangle the mess created by your head.

Make and link the connections

Try to make connections with your emotion and think about them. Once you have something in your mind, you start to overthink about it, try to make several connections with past experiences or incidents, and end up getting many other emotions at the same time. The emotion you started with at the beginning camouflages itself into many other emotions.

For example, if you are wondering about a speech you are going to deliver in the seminar, you will get additional feelings such as –

Worry: about what is going to happen in the seminar.

Irritation: over the fact that they could have chosen someone else to give the speech

Sadness: for scenarios where things might go out of your hand.

All these additional internal feelings are aroused because of the fear that you might mess up in the seminar while giving a speech.

The feeling chart wheel has got many other emotions all co-related with each other such as, love is correlated with joy and serenity, acceptance, and trust. This way, it shall be easier to understand the root cause of your emotion because you will have a list of emotions to choose from and find out within.


Doing all the process explained earlier by using the emotion identifier technique is not enough. You have to take action against the arising emotion so that it does not reach its intense level. This is because once the emotions take up an intense form, you shall see it in your speech and body language.

Emotions usually take up the form of actions, and they are usually impulsive and thus aren't the best idea. You need to take actions that can cope up with the arising emotion. Using the chart of emotions is going to help you with it.

However, you need to keep in mind that you do not need to shove off the emotion at all. You just need to minimize it so that it does not cause you any harm shortly. You can get this printable feelings wheel once you search for it on the internet.

Try not to waste your time increasing the extra emotions and spend that time doing something you love to do. This shall also be beneficial in the future.

Interpretation of Plutchik's wheel of emotions

Here, Plutchik theory of emotion is described as primary, opposite, mixtures, and intensities of the colors:


The eight basic sectors at the beginning of the wheel in the primary emotions chart indicate the eight primary emotions: anger, anticipation, joy, trust, fear, surprise, sadness, and disgust.

This is the core emotion wheel as it's the beginning of Plutchik's wheel of emotions test. The primary emotions list has a color assigns to each of the eight colors in the emotions wheel chart.


In the emotion wheel by Plutchik, each primary emotion opposites another emotion, and both are polar opposite to each other. The Plutchik emotions model is made with an opposite emotions chart from that too the primary emotions.

This opposite emotions list is made on the reaction each emotion creates in animals. For example, joy is opposed to sadness, fear is opposed to anger, anticipation is opposed to surprise, and disgust is opposed to trusting.


The combination of emotions is displayed as no color in the emotions color wheel printable by Plutchik. These are a mixture of two primary emotions.

For example, anticipation and joy mix to form optimism, which is a combination of emotion, in the emotion wheel pdf printable.

Emotions are often very complex, and it is difficult to understand when a feeling is a combination of two or more emotions.

That's where emotion chart psychology comes to use. There are also tertiary feelings that are not shown on the emotions pinwheel. They are a combination of three primary emotions.


The vertical dimension of the cone in the emotional color chart represents the intensity of the color. The intensity defines the emotional intensification and moves from outside to the center of the emotional vocabulary wheel.

The wheel of emotions printable has a darker shade of color for more intense emotions and a lighter shade for less intense emotions.

Thus the emotion color wheel printable is used to check the emotional intensity. Any emotion, if left unchecked, can intensify and cause harm to the person or any relationship.

Thus the emotional intensity chart enhances your emotional vocabulary, and you can also get Plutchik's wheel of emotions printable for your use.


There are two different variations of Plutchik's wheel of emotions; they are:

The Geneva emotion wheel –

the Geneva emotions chart divides the emotions into four different quadrants. The emotions are separated as pleasant and unpleasant. Then they are further separated as high and low control emotions. "Control" refers to your ability to handle your emotion so that it does not cause a triggering problem.

The most amazing thing about the Geneva emotions coloring wheel is that it has got a place for "no emotions" at the center of the wheel. This is used to describe emotional numbness.

Junto emotion pinwheel –

the Junto emotion chart shall be the best for you if you are searching for a wide range of emotions to choose from. This emotional intelligence wheel looks exactly like a wheel and has got six color-coded wedges.

Similar to the Plutchik wheel of emotions, in the Junto emotion wheel, you will find the center of the Junto emotion wheel to have six basic emotions.

They are – love, anger, sadness, fear, joy, and surprise. As one moves away from the center, they shall get to see more specific emotions.

Benefits of junto emotion chart wheel

Although it contains a total of 108 emotions described in the Junto color wheel and emotions, they are represented in a super-comprehensive way.

The Junto emotion wheel, unlike the Plutchik model of emotions, has given the same importance to both negative and positive emotions as well.

Here, "love" is a separate emotion, and "happiness" is also a separate emotion. Thus the subtle differences are not only among the negative emotions but also among the positive ones.

Benefits of Geneva emotions chart wheel

It has got an emotion as "no emotions," which refers to as emotional numbness. This is of great help for people who are suffering from emotional numbness and cannot feel any emotion in themselves.

The emotions vocabulary wheel of Geneva explains the fact that some emotions are more dominant and more controlled than others. The feelings wheel tells you that you have a little control over feeling sad or surprised, but you have greater control over your wheel of anger.

So, the color wheel emotions are a tool that allows us to give a name to our emotions and also understand the intensity of the feeling. It gives us the ability to articulate our emotions, understand opposite emotions, and identify the emotions that act as an important component of emotional language.

Everyone can use this printable wheel of emotions to identify their emotions and know themselves better. Thus this will help them to make the correct decision, gain closure, seek resolutions, and be more self-compassionate. Robert Plutchik's wheel of emotions is the most common feelings circle that is in use.

Any person who is curious to know about feelings and emotions can easily download the primary and secondary emotions chart from the internet. If you cannot express your emotions to someone, the wheel of emotions shall come into handy. The emotions list in the wheel shall give you a greater sense of control and thus help you to plan out certain things in your life, thus helping you lead a better life.

Plutchik's model of feelings wheel printable is also used by many organizations as a team-building weapon to establish a common ground and a common mindset among all the employees and members. This leads to a better mindset, thus a friendlier workspace, and improves the individual working capability of the workers. This emotion and feeling wheel ensures that the workers and leaders both perform well in their respective workspace and have a strong emotional intelligence.

Feelings wheel: primary and secondary emotion wheel and its benefits

The actual feeling wheel chart was created by an Australian pastor, Sir Geoffrey Roberts. This feelings wheel, just like the Robert Plutchik wheel of emotions, is used by people to identify their emotions. Though this feelings wheel chart had not been produced after extensive research, these feelings wheel printable had been a big hit on social media.

Using the feeling wheel printable –

It is always tricky to find out the perfect word that goes with your emotion. Both children and old people have a hard time labeling a name to their emotions, and that's where the emotions chart comes into use by therapists and psychiatrists. The feelings color wheel is a tool that works on emotional efficiency.

The feeling wheel (FW) is divided into many sub-sections, and the upper part of the emotional chart consists of the negative emotional levels, while the bottom half mostly consists of positive feelings and emotions. The feelings chart wheel is split into six different color-coded triangles.

The six triangles include the six basic emotions (joyful, powerful, peaceful, sad, angry, and afraid), which mark the beginning of the wheel of feelings. These six emotions are called secondary emotions.

While using this wheel of emotions chart for the first time, the person is first asked to choose any one emotion from the six basic secondary emotions. They are the easiest to connect to for any person. After that, the person is asked to look at the "primary" emotions table and chose out as many as possible from the triangle.

After that, time is spent on the emotions chosen by the person, and the emotions are further studied to find out the actual emotion. This way, getting to know the emotions become very easy from the basic feelings chart as the love and anger wheel is perfectly depicted.

If you are trying to use the emotions wheel printable as an emotions chart for adults, it could be beneficial to read out the emotions listed in the trajectories.

For example, an adult client had found out that the emotion he was feeling was anger, by using his emotion wheel worksheet; he understood that the anger was an outcome of being lonely and insecure. So, the feelings chart therapy is a list of feelings and emotions with definitions.

The emotion chart as a whole: Work, life and the bottom line

As we have come to the end of the article on the model of emotions, different emotions chart, and how to use the feeling wheel, I want to mention that emotions are a complicated thing. Emotions are what makes humans the most complicated animal on this planet.

Understanding emotions by a simple emotion wheel are never easy. There have been many emotion identification charts, and there are different emotional mapping exercises that are practiced just to understand the different emotions faced by people.

The emotional spectrum wheel created by eminent people such as the Robert Plutchik wheel of emotions book has surely helped and eased down the study of emotions to a great extent. That's why it cannot be neglected that the emotional word wheel has done great work to help us practice identify feelings and get comforted with them.

When Sir Plutchik was preparing his emotions word wheel, he realized that every animal exhibit a wide range of emotions. That's why he had created the wheel of emotions worksheet, which could be downloaded from the understanding emotions pdf from the internet. Although I will never disagree with the fact that feeling is a complex process, but the feeling wheel is a guide to your feelings.

There are numerous printable feelings wheel for adults available on the internet. If you do not feel like consulting a therapist, you could even use the identifying emotions worksheet and try to understand your emotions.

There are different types of emotions in psychology, and Plutchik's wheel of emotions book does justice to all the emotions. The emotion wheel printable gives us a clear explanation for our emotions and helps us to explore why we feel the way we do.

Exploring emotions and trying to understand how to use the emotion wheel is a very difficult process, but working on it might be the best thing for you.

In this way, every emotion that is causing you trouble will become less disturbing, and you will get the strength to confront them.

All it does is promote self-awareness and understanding.

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