Creating an emotional color wheel

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I'm working on a new book, tentatively titled Wave Function, that plays with the philosophical concept of splitting the mental and physical planes of existence. It's early days yet, and I'll share more in future, but for now I needed a way for robots to display emotion to humans. The combination of color and light is an old idea, but a useful one. The question became, what should map to what?

I started by asking the question: what is even the right foundational set of emotions? There's no one approach to this. Descartes thought we had six basic emotions: wonder, love, hate, desire, joy, and sadness. Another cited figure in this field, Dr. Paul Ekman, has a different six: anger, contempt, disgust, enjoyment, fear, sadness, and surprise.

I ran across the circumplex model of emotion in my research, and took a liking to it for two reasons. First, because Lisa Feldman Barrett references it in her work. I'm a big fan of Barrett, having devoured her interactions with Lex Fridman. Her thoughts on allostasis were a big influence on how an AGI develops in my first novel, Becoming Monday. But on a practical note, the circular nature of the model lends itself nicely to the color wheel. When I mapped the two together, and then rotated the wheel to fit the colors a bit closer to a pop culture (at least a "Western" one) take on colors, I ended up with this:

emotional color wheel

I was pretty happy with how this mapped out, and for now am running with it. I'm still in the writing process, which means miles of both writing and editing lie ahead of me, so we'll see what sticks.

If you're interested in the topic, a student at the University of Twente documented a number of different approaches to this.

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