The "Functional Units" Model of six basic emotions

Interest as the most fundamental emotion

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"The Functional Unit No.1" at the emotions level running two complementary programs called...

1.) interest
  • In its first stage the interest takes the form of noticing new object (if there is an accompanying thought about what there should be found instead, it is called surprise), the function of which is to prepare our eyes to focus on the object, which is achieved by making our eyes stop looking around and by opening eyelids with eyebrows lifted.
  • In its second stage the interest then takes the form of wondering, the function of which is to enable us to get the rounded picture of the object as seen from different angles, which is achieved by getting our head and body change
    their positions both horizontally and vertically
    while our eyes keep focusing on the object of wondering.

An emotion expression - Keepon's little wondering

  • In its third stage the interest then takes the form of curiousness (curiosity), the function of which is to get the image details, which is achieved by getting our lens zooming in on the curiosity-object and/or by our pupils getting widened (dilated).
  • In its fourth stage the interest then takes the form of fascination (astonishment), the function of which is to get even more intimate look into the fascinating object and its internal state, by smelling it, which is achieved by getting our nostrils widened

  • In its fifth stage the interest then takes the form of awe (amazement), the function of which is to prepare ourselves to get the object's real taste, which is achieved by getting our jaws dropped so our mouth opens (despite of it, our breath still comes through our nostrils so we can continuously smell it, too) and by getting our tongue sticked upward and out.                        
    The word or onomatopoeic sound made when one's mouth are opened in awe/amazment is known as "wow".
              Below is presented an emoticon (smiley) expressing it. 

    the wow emoticon as image 
     { : (o) 
    (made from keyboard characters )

  • In its sixth stage the interest finally takes the form of ecstasy, the function of which is to get all senses totally involved with the object of interest, which is achieved by temporarily forgetting everything else but the object of interest.
An emotion expression - baby's little ecstasy

2.) disgust, the function of which is to prepare ourselves to avoid consuming (literally or metaphorically) indigestible objects /information/etc,which is achieved by controlling the sense organs' behavior called emotion-expression in folk-psychology.
Each stage of the disgust has its own folk-psychological name.
In English language: a) inattention, b) ignoring/ neglect, c) aversion, and d) repulsion/ revulsion.
  • not directing the sense organs towards the object/person/process to inspect it furtherly, called inattention. Civil inattention is called for where people don't know our intentions they would get angered or frightened by unwelcomed attention. (When first time the robot's camera happen to be accidentally directed in the direction you are, it does not stop);
  • whenever sensing the same object/person/process, the inattention is iterated, the stage is called ignoring/neglect. (Every time the robot's camera accidentally stumbles upon you, it turns it away);
  • trying many different ways (rising head, swaying hands to prevent approaching the object/person/process and being too close to us) to not sense the object called aversion and contempt as the social equivalent. (The robot is showing you not to approach it and not to be too close to it, because what you show to it is indigestible and makes it "throw up");
  • expelling the object, called repulsion/revulsion and excommunication is its social equivalent. (The robot throws away what you have been offering to it, including all channels of communication between you two);

"The Functional Unit No.2" at the emotions level running two complementary programs called...

3.) anger, preparing body/mind for successful fight by enforcing the change in its trajectory of movement or way of behavior (which was guided by the other's interest or desire) by forcing them to get out of our interests' way.
4.) fear,preparing body/mind for successful avoidance (flightingaway from the object of fear) by changing our own trajectory of movement or way of behavior which was guided by our own interest (or desire) in responding to the enforcement of interests of the more powerful in our environment.

"The Functional Unit No.3" at the emotions level running two complementary programs called...

5.) gladness, preparing body/mind for updating our emotional landscape with new information on the enlarged ability or potential of certain objects/persons/ processes in our environment to fulfill our needs, by making enough high and enlarged space in the emotional memory for representing this enlarged potential.

6.) sadness, preparing body/mind for updating our emotional landscape by shrinking our representation of potential of certain (lost) objects/persons/processes to fulfill our needs by shaking off (and actually shaking and trembling our sense organs) our emotional landscape attributed to them.

Question No.1:

How does the functional units model differ from other psychological theories of basic emotions?

  • It differs, firstly, in pairing the emotions according to their complementary functions serving to achieve agent's autonomy in its environment so that each emotion is being at one or the other pole of the one of three dimensions, which leads us to the other difference
  • secondly it differs in an assumption that later units (No.2 and No.3) are impossible for living being (as well as for robotic or virtual autonomous agent) to evolve/implement without first having evolved/implemented the earlier functional units (No.1).

Question No.2:

It seems that the model was developed with not the psychologists (or the philosophers of mind) in mind, but more with developers of autonomous agents in mind?

  • Yes, indeed. The model was developed with the researchers/developers of artificial autonomous agents {but also interoceptively controlled sensory-motor researchers of human movement such as Malcolm Manning} in mind, with embodied conversational agents researchers such as Catherine Pelachaud, virtual humans researchers such as Etienne de Sevin, adaptive systems researchers such as Lola Canamero, and affective computing researchers such as Rosalind Picard, in mind.
  • Among philosophers of mind are a few names, too - for example - author of the 2002's book "Passionated Engines" philosopher Craig DeLancey who would probably find the model interesting, and, the last but not the least, among psychologists there is researcher of the interest as one of the basic emotions, Paul Silvia, author of the 2006's book "Psychology of Interest".
  • There is the author of philosophical foundations of meta-emotions, Cristoph Jaeger, who wrote the first philosophical article on meta-emotions.
  • For broader look on emotions see the well-organized collection of links on emotion by Michael Speer at his webpage
  • Combining the "functional units" model with meta-emotions theory was made with parents, teachers, seekers of enlightenment and (dance)therapist in mind -- see: A cross-table of (meta-)emotions.

Question No.3:

What about desire? How does interest differ from the desire in the light of "functional units" model and "lower/higher levels" model?

  • Desire is a program that runs at the mental level guiding our body/mind towards what is (thought to be) known by us, while interest is program that runs at the emotional level guiding our body/mind towards what is unknown to us.

Question No.4:

What about belief/reason? How do they differ from the desire in your view?

  • They are two programs that run within the mental level as well, but at meta-positions, the beliefs are meta-desires, and the reasons are meta-beliefs.

Question No.5:

What about person's will, how it differs from desire/belief/reason?

  • It is required of a body/mind to be able to understand the person's social role in order for will to have any function. Will is a program that runs at the socio-cultural level since there it is always to be known whose will is (to be) done.