Feelings of affect range from pleasant to unpleasant, from idle to activated

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A note for Lesson no. 6, "Brains Make More Than One Kind of Mind," in Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Some context from page 105 is:

Feelings of affect range from pleasant to unpleasant, from idle to activated.

The appendix adds:

Affect is described by a mathematical structure [...] called a circumplex.

For more information on the affective circumplex, see these references.[1][2][3]

The dimensions of the affective circumplex, valence (pleasant, unpleasant) and arousal (active or attentive, still or sleepy), are much older than the circumplex itself and have their roots in writings by the psychologist Wilhelm Wundt,[4] Robert S. Woodsworth,[5] and Harold H. Schlosberg,[6] among others. Note also that affect is not emotion.

See also

Interesting tidbits from the webnotes for How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain:


  1. Russell, James A. 1980. “A Circumplex Model of Affect.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 39 (6): 1161–1178.
  2. Barrett, Lisa Feldman, and Eliza Bliss‐Moreau. 2009. “Affect as a Psychological Primitive.” Advances in Experimental Social Psychology 41: 167–218.
  3. Kuppens, Peter, Francis Tuerlinckx, James A. Russell, and Lisa Feldman Barrett. 2013. “The Relation Between Valence and Arousal in Subjective Experience.” Psychological Bulletin 139 (4): 917–940.
  4. Wundt, Wilhelm. (1897) 1998. Outlines of Psychology, translated by Charles Hubbard Judd. Bristol, UK: Thoemmes Press.
  5. Woodworth, Robert S. 1938. Experimental Psychology. Oxford, England: Holt.
  6. Schlosberg, Harold. 1954. "Three Dimensions of Emotion." Psychological Review 61: 81–88.