What is wheel of emotion and 4 Processes of Emotion

What is emotion?

An emotion is a brief, multicomponent response to some change in their current circumstances. The wheel of emotion includes four phases. For example, if we assess our present circumstances as bad, a negative emotion arises and in the same way, if we appraise current circumstances as good, appositive emotion will arise.

Emotions can activate and direct behavior. Emotions are typically triggered from the outside source. Emotions are usually aroused by a person’s current external circumstances, identified as the person-environment relationship and emotional reactions are directed toward these circumstances. Emotions can be elicited by a wide variety of stimuli. 

AngerA demanding offense against me and mine
AnxietyFacing an uncertain, existential threat
FrightFacing an immediate, concrete, and overwhelming physical danger
GuiltHaving transgressed a moral imperative
ShameHaving failed to live up to an ego ideal
SadnessHaving experienced an irrevocable loss
EnvyWanting what someone else has
JealousyResenting a third party for loss or threat to another’s affection
DisgustTaking in or being too close to an indigestible object or idea
HappinessMaking reasonable progress toward the realization of a goal
PrideEnhancing our ego identity by taking credit for a valued object or achievement
ReliefA distressing goal incongruent the condition has changed for the better
HopeFearing the worst but yearning for better
LoveDesiring or participating in affection, usually but not necessarily reciprocated
CompassionBeing moved by another’s suffering and wanting to help

Process of emotion formation : Wheel of Emotion

An emotional feeling includes from appraisal to facial expression. The first process of emotion formation is a subjective feeling of the personal meaning of his or her current circumstances. After that, it triggers a cascade of responses and ignites interconnected further components of emotions. The following are the component of the emotion process:

wheel of emotion

Wheel of Emotion Phase 1: Cognitive Appraisal

This is the first process in emotion formation. It is called the interpretation of present circumstances. Environmental conditions or situations, how we interpret them can cause different emotions. Like someone insults you, you and you might interpret it as a threat to honor. If so, you had experienced anger.

In another case, you should have thought of this as the ranting or taunt of a worthless person that time you would feel no emotion. So, basically, emotion is totally based on what a personal meaning you give to circumstances. Cognitive appraisal is largely responsible for differencing emotions. Cognitive appraisal occurs outside conscious awareness.


Psychologists conducted an experiment in which some subjects were given an injection of epinephrine, which typically causes autonomic arousal. It increases heart rate, respiration rate, and muscle tremors. The experimenter then manipulated the information that the participants were given regarding the effects of the injection. 

Some participants were correctly informed about the arousal consequences of the drug, but others were given no information about the drug’s effects. The informed participants, therefore, had an explanation for their sensations, whereas the uninformed participants did not.

Participants left the waiting room with another person. This person is actually a member of the psychologist’s team. This guy creates a happy situation/environment by playing games, making jokes, making paper airplanes, etc., and in the same way, he creates an angry situation by tearing up questionnaires and complaining.

The uninformed participants who were placed in happy situations rated their feeling as happier than did the informed participants in that same situation. In simple words informed participants who had a physiological explanation for their arousal appeared to be less influenced by the situation than those who did not have an explanation.

Wheel of Emotion Phase 2: Subjective experiences

The next step in wheel of emotion formation is the subjective experience of feeling.  When we feel a negative emotion, like fear or anger, the unpleasant feeling serves as a cue that something in our environment poses us a threat and we may need to act fast to protect ourselves. 

When we feel a positive emotion, like joy or interest, the pleasant feeling signals that we are safe and satiated, and that we can feel free to play or explore. Subjective experiences of emotions, guide the behavior and decision-making of a person. 

The affective state tone colors private feeling. Our feeling can affect our evaluations of other people. When we are feeling happy, a friend’s habit of constantly checking appearing in a mirror may seem just an idiosyncrasy; when we feel irritable, we may dwell on how vain he is. 

The feeling component of emotion is thought to guide behavior. If you are feeling sad when you hear the story, some of your memories about failure experiences may be easily accessible, and the similarity of these memories to the new fact. In contrast, if you are feeling happy when you hear the story, your most accessible memories may be too dissimilar to a school failure to foster a relationship between old memories and the new fact.

Wheel of Emotion Phase 3 : Bodily changes

When we experience certain emotions intensely, such as anger, we may be aware of a number of bodily changes including rapid heart rate and breathing, dryness of throat and mouth. Many of the physiological changes that take place during emotional arousal result from activation of the sympatric nervous system.

It prepares the body for emergencies and increases blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate. People with spinal cord injuries report less intense emotions because of a deficit in the autonomic nervous system.

In a laboratory experiment, students were first asked to prepare a speech on ‘why you are a good friend’ under considerable time pressure. They were told that their speech would be video recorded and evaluated by their peers. 

This speech produced anxiety, blood pressure increased, heart rate increased. These physiological changes lingered on even after participants were informed that they would not have to deliver their speech after all.

Wheel of Emotion Phase 4 : Facial muscle movement

The fourth stage in wheel of emotion is facial movements. Facial movements that sometimes accompany emotions serve to communicate the sender’s emotion. Certain facial muscle movement seems to have a universal meaning, regardless of the culture in which an individual is raised. The universal expression of anger, for example, involves a flushed face, brows lowered and drawn together, flared nostrils, a clenched jaw, and bared teeth. 

The universality of the facial muscle the movement associated with certain emotions supports Darwin’s claim that they are innate responses with an evolutionary history. Although facial muscle movement seems to be innately associated with particular emotions, certain aspects of them are learned.  

In some cultures, people who lose a loved one are expected to feel sad and express their sadness by openly crying and wailing for the loved one to return. In other cultures, bereaved people are expected to sing and dance.


Wheel of Emotion is originated from our assessment of current circumstances. An interpretation of the personal meaning of the situation results first step in emotion formation. Then subjective feelings or experiences guide our behavior in certain directions. Further emotions involve physiological arousal caused by activation of the sympathetic nervous system.

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