Categories of Emotions
The list of emotions a typical pre-K child understands may be limited to happy, mad, sad, and scared (Harter, S., & Buddin, B. J.), but as they grow, the list expands, and they develop a more nuanced vocabulary to explain how they feel.
Over the past 40 years, several frameworks have emerged to describe and categorize emotions. There is the Plutchik Wheel of Emotions, Ekmans’ Atlas of Emotions, and many others, but for this article, we are sharing a tree-like framework created by Dr. Phillip Shaver and his colleagues at the University of Denver.
In 1987, Shaver and his colleagues published Emotion Knowledge: Further Exploration of a Prototype Approach where they outlined a three-level hierarchy of emotions and categorized words within that hierarchy. In the paper, they identified six primary emotions: Anger, Fear, Joy, Love, Sadness, and Surprise – And they identified 25 secondary emotions and 135 words that represent more descriptive tertiary emotions.
Here is the complete list of emotions and how they are categorized:
- Disgust: Contempt, disgust, revulsion
- Envy: Envy, jealousy
- Exasperation: Exasperation, frustration
- Irritation: Aggravation, agitation, annoyance, grouchiness, grumpiness, irritation
- Rage: Anger, bitterness, dislike, ferocity, fury, hate, hostility, loathing, outrage, rage, resentment, scorn, spite, vengefulness, wrath
- Torment: Torment
- Horror: Alarm, fear, fright, horror, hysteria, mortification, panic, shock, terror
- Nervousness: Anxiety, apprehension, distress, dread, nervousness, tenseness, uneasiness, worry
- Cheerfulness: Amusement, bliss, cheerfulness, delight, ecstasy, elation, enjoyment, euphoria, gaiety, gladness, glee, happiness, jolliness, joviality, joy, jubilation, satisfaction
- Contentment: Contentment, pleasure
- Enthrallment: Enthrallment, rapture
- Optimism: Eagerness, hope, optimism
- Pride: Pride, triumph
- Relief: Relief
- Zest: Enthusiasm, excitement, exhilaration, thrill, zeal, zest
- Affection: Adoration, affection, attraction, caring, compassion, fondness, liking, love, sentimentality, tenderness
- Longing: Longing
- Lust: Arousal, desire, infatuation, lust, passion
- Disappointment: Disappointment, dismay, displeasure
- Neglect: Alienation, defeat, dejection, embarrassment, homesickness, humiliation, insecurity, isolation, insult, loneliness, neglect, rejection
- Sadness: Depression, despair, gloom, glumness, grief, hopelessness, melancholy, misery, sadness, sorrow, unhappiness, woe
- Shame: Guilt, regret, remorse, shame
- Suffering: Agony, anguish, hurt, suffering
- Sympathy: Pity, sympathy
- Surprise: Amazement, astonishment, surprise
Teaching Emotional Literacy
To assist you as you help students understand emotions, we have created a series of lessons, activities, worksheets, and printables. Many of these include characters and scenarios from our online SEL interventions. While you aren’t required to use our online programs in order to use the lessons, you can request a Free Trial here.
It’s important that students learn to identify the degree of emotion they are feeling and use words that are more descriptive than mad, sad, happy, etc.
In these worksheets, students will read emotion words that describe the range of one emotion and identify situations that make them feel that way.
Identifying and managing feelings requires that we respond to emotional situations in a socially acceptable manner, and research shows that children who are good at identifying and managing their emotions feel better about themselves and have more successful friendships.
This identifying emotions activity will students learn to recognize the physical signs associated with different emotions.
Everyone feels angry from time to time, and it can be an overwhelming emotion. And like other emotions, anger comes in different strengths or degrees.
Using this anger thermometer worksheet, students will reflect on situations where they feel angry and brainstorm ideas for how to calm down.
These emotion faces worksheets will help your students evaluate facial expressions and associate those expressions with a range of emotions.
In the lesson, we use characters from our online SEL game, Adventures Aboard the SS GRIN to illustrate the following feelings: angry, anxious, bored, confused, happy, impatient, sad, scared, and surprised.
Additional Emotional Literacy Lessons and Activities
- Feelings Wheel: A daily check in to help you understand how your students are feeling
- The Worry Scale: Coping strategies for anxiety, worry, and fear
- Mood Ring Colors: Another worksheet to help students identify emotions
- Feelings Faces: A free match the emojis printable
- Charades: An emotion identification activity based on the game, Charades
- Telephone Game: Recognizing facial expressions and body language
Lesson Extension When Using Centervention Online Programs
Each day, when a student log in to their online Centervention account, they will be asked how they are feeling. They can select one of the following five options: Mad, Sad, Worried, Okay, Happy.
All of these student emotion check ins are recorded and displayed in your educator dashboard where you can determine, at a glance, which students may need additional support.