Critiquing Models of Emotions

Herman W Smith, Andreas Schneider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper provides the first systematic empirical examination of four major genres of theories concerning the nature, and rise, of the corpus of human emotions with over 2000 statistical tests of five hypotheses. The distinction between evolutionary-universal and other, “secondary”, emotions is empirically uninformative for all five cultures. Next, the emotion-wheel theory of Plutchik receives no empirical support. All palette theories fail our four empirical tests. Over 90 empirical tests fail to support Kemper and Turner in assuming that many secondary emotions arise through complex combinations of primary emotions due to socialization. We also test and reject the Johnson-Laird and Oatley hypothesis of five universal clusters of emotions. Researchers need to rethink the heuristic value of dichotomizing and lumping emotions in categories like universal, primary, basic, secondary, tertiary or whatever. We end by discussing the clear empirical advantages of differentiating between emo
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)560-589
JournalSociological Methods & Research
StatePublished - 2009


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