First Results of My Mood and Emotions Tracking Experiment

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tracking mood two-dimensionsIn January, I started experimenting with two-dimensional approach to measuring mood. This approach was mentioned in one of the posts on Quantified Self website, but basically, in addition to using the “valence” scale (I feel bad/good), you rate your mood also on dimension of “arousal” (how “hyped” you feel). This weekend, with over 30 days of data, I had a chance to look at how well does this two-dimensional mood metric reflects my state of psyche, and ended up with an awesome visual map of my emotional states which confirmed that I can potentially drop the individual emotions from my self-tracking log. 

To track my mood in January, I set up 10-point valence and arousal scales in my rTracker app and used them to log mood every morning, afternoon and evening. At the same time, I was recording the following basic 24 emotions (using yes/no scale):

Affection, Lust, Longing, Joy, Zest, Contentment, Pride, Hope, Relief, Surprise, Irritability, Frustration, Rage, Disgust, Envy, Suffering, Sadness, Disappointment, Shame, Isolation, Pity, Panic, Anxiety, and Boredom.

First, I looked at how often I experienced each of the emotions, and removed those with incidences less than 10:


Measured Me Mood and Emotions Tracking Experiment: My Emotional States in January 2013

I then computed average valence and arousal scores for the remaining emotions, “centered” them around the average monthly scores, and mapped in the valence/arousal space using Excel’s scatter plot feature:


Measured Me Mood and Emotions Tracking Experiment: Mapping Emotional States in Arousal/Valence Mood Space

The resulting map of emotions clearly demonstrates that the two-dimensional mood metric captures my emotional states relatively well. All the positive and intense emotions like pride, thrill and joy ended up in the upper right quadrant of the space. The negative and intense emotions like irritation, suffering and anxiety were in the opposite, third quadrant. The less intense emotions were close to the middle of arousal scale, but in the appropriate upper and lower parts of the plane, according to their valence.

This month, I will be using three-dimensional approach (also known as PAD model, or Self-Assessment Manikin) to tracking mood. The third dimension, “dominance”, reflects perceived degree of control over the situation. For instance, fear or sadness are submissive emotional state, whereas irritation or anger are dominant. I hope that all three dimensions (valence, arousal, and dominance) will be enough to track my emotional state accurately, and I can drop the individual emotions from my log.

In the next post, I will look at how two dimensions of mood predict happiness and stress. Stay tuned!

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12 Responses to First Results of My Mood and Emotions Tracking Experiment

  1. Kris Moses says:

    Did you use Plutchiks wheel of emotions?

  2. Lex says:

    Very interesting post, I just shared it with my friend school psychologist.

  3. Привет, Константин! Я наблюдаю около полугода за эмоциями. Несколько раз в день отвечаю да/нет на наличие эмоций, описанных в опроснике PANAS. Данные собираются, даже копятся, но дальше особенно дело не идет. Я научился извлекать из 54 эмоций производные – положительные, отрицательные, нейтральные эмоции. Я даже сделал производные эмоциональная насыщенность (суммирование всех эмоций) и эмоциональный баланс (положительные + нейтральные – отрицательные эмоции)…

    Но отрицательных эмоций в PANAS в принципе больше, чем положительных и я не совсем уверен в правомерности использования своего “баланса эмоций”. Между тем это центральная переменная, с которой я больше всего люблю смотреть корреляцию других параметров…

    Достижение своего счастья при помощи “баланса эмоций” пока не представляется мне достаточным. Чего-то не хватает. И я не знаю, что исправить, как более тонко смотреть на проблему. Может в “балансе эмоций” сделать формулу по взвешенному оцениваю параметров, даже меньшее количество положительных переменных уравновешивались с большим по количеством числом отрицательных эмоций?

  4. Measured Me says:

    Леша, согласен, положительные эмоции не отражают счастья. Я недавно наткнулся на исследование, в котором авторы смотрят не на положительные эмоции, а на пропорцию PА/NA (positive affect/negative affect ratio). Они утверждают, что для хорошей жизни нужно испытывать не только положительные эмоции, но и определенную долю отрицательных эмоций, и числовое соотношение положительных к отрицательным отражает этот баланс. Я думаю, для каждого индивидуума это число – уникально.

  5. Так, значит ничего конкретного ты мне не скажешь :). Кроме того, что я вроде бы на правильном пути, высчитывая “баланс эмоций” – возможно аналог PА/NA.

    Да и не обязательно, что “нужно” испытывать отрицательные эмоции 🙂 это те эмоции, которых наверное не может не быть в жизни. Я могу сейчас взглянуть на столбец “отрицательные эмоции”. Как думаешь, сколько там будет дней с нулем отрицательных эмоций?… Таких дней нет. В выборке из 197 дней (с виду подчиняется закону нормально распределения) минимумы – 1 день с 2 отрицательными эмоциями, 1 день с 8 отрицательными эмоциями, 2 дня с 9 отрицательными эмоциями. Иллюстрация здесь –

  6. Measured Me says:

    А что это за числа на Х-оси?

  7. Jay Bradfield says:

    Very interesting. I like this approach.

    It seems that one could reduce it even further though to a single continuum with two poles. On one end you have “negative valence with low arousal” and the other you have “positive valence with high arousal.” There doesn’t appear to be much in the “positive valence with low arousal” or “negative valence with high arousal” spaces.

  8. Measured Me says:

    Hi Jay,

    Great observation! I think it is because my analysis is based on only 30 days of data. I did not have enough time to “accumulate” certain emotions that could potentially land in those two quadrants that you mention. I am continuing tracking emotions this month, and will rerun analysis with more data points. It looks like for the sake of experiment and self-science, I may have to submit myself to some negative experiences in order to cover all emotional “space” lol

  9. limner says:

    Does your blog have a contact page? I’m having trouble locating it but, I’d like to shoot you an email. I’ve got some ideas for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great blog and I look forward to seeing it develop over time.

  10. Measured Me says:


    Thanks a lot! Yes, you can get in touch with me using the contact form on About Measured Me page of this blog. You can also drop me a DM on Twitter @measuredme

  11. Women Calc says:

    Does your site have a contact page? I’m having a tough time locating it but, I’d like to
    shoot you an e-mail. I’ve got some recommendations for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great website and I look forward to seeing it improve over time.

  12. says:

    Interesting take on mood tracking. Thank you for sharing your ideas and results!!!

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