Three basic positive emotions
Based on a large study of men and women, American psychologist,
Howard Berenbaum, believes that one can divide positive emotions
into three emotion groups.
The first of the positive emotions is called contentment. It covers
concepts such as satisfaction, pleasure and comfort. This emotion
is specially linked to situations where a need or desire is satisfied.
These can vary from physical needs like sex and food, to psychological
needs like receiving praise and recognition, or simply having completed
a job and feeling very satisfied with the result.
The second positive emotion is cheerfulness. It is associated
with concepts such as joy, gaiety and happiness. This is a quite
sustained emotion and especially arises in situations where you
are together with other people you really like.
The third and last of the basic positive emotions is called enchantment - an emotion that is particularly experienced when you are absorbed
by something, e.g. a film, another person, or just your own work
when it is going well. This emotion is equivalent to expressions
such as being fascinated by something or enthusiastic about something.
Love does not appear as an independent emotion. Berenbaum believes
that the strongest positive emotions, including love when it is
intense and true, cover all three basic positive emotions. You
feel happy and cheerful in the company of your beloved. Your needs
are satisfied, sexually but also psychologically (because lovers
are usually good at admiring and praising each other). Finally,
you can be so fascinated by your beloved that just seeing and hearing
him or her generates a lasting delight, regardless of what else
is going on.
Berenbaum, Howard (2002): Varieties of joy-related pleasurable
activities and feelings. Cognition and Emotion, 16 (4), 473-494.