The Psychology of Disappointment & Our Characters

Disappointment is one of the most powerful emotions in fiction, and something all characters must feel at some point in their journey. There are different levels of disappointment, and many causes for it. Characters can be disappointed in others or their circumstances, but the deepest and most meaningful moments happen when this emotion is directed toward themselves.

The feelings of worthlessness that self-disappointment can lead to is something all people understand intimately, and so when a character experiences this same feeling, it creates empathy in readers. Disappointment in oneself drops the character into the lowest of lows, creating an obstacle he must overcome within himself as it holds him back and keeps him from reaching his goals.

This fabulous info graphic is PACKED with great thoughts on disappointment, and will be sure to give you ideas on how to better show the progression of this emotion as you write. I’m reproducing it here with permission, and you can visit the home site HERE for more great psychology-based information. Enjoy!

The Psychology of Disappointment

Source: Best Psychology Degrees


Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
This entry was posted in Characters, Emotion. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to The Psychology of Disappointment & Our Characters

  1. Pingback: The Psychology of Disappointment | BalaFive

  2. Tschasmine says:

    It is very true that the disappointment both we and our characters feel most often is directed at ourselves. However, this is not always visible on first sight: Often anger and disappointment we address at other people in reality roots back to being disappointed by our own behavior.

  3. Karlee says:

    This was exactly what I needed to read today. It helped me immensely with a certain character who has been giving me a lot of trouble. Thank you so much!

  4. This is super awesome, Angela. The Bookshelf Muse is hell bent on making us better writers. Hugs to you and Becca.

  5. Wow, that info graph is really cool!

  6. So glad you guys find this helpful. It offers a great in depth look at disappointment and where it leads, and I know I’ll be using it when I consider how disappointment will affect my characters. How fortunate a link to this landed in my inbox this week!

    Happy writing!


  7. Jackie says:

    This is amazing. Thanks so much for sharing today.

    The Bookshelf Muse is always helpful and you never “disappoint” me.

    Thanks for all you do!

  8. Awesome graph and interesting read. I tend to get more disappointed in myself than I do others which often leads to feelings of depression and guilt. When I work through it and try to find ways to turn my disappointment into a positive learning experience, I immediately feel better and a feeling of elation attaches. I love the complete breakdown of the emotion and what other emotions disappointment can lead to shows us. Thanks for sharing.

  9. M Pax says:

    Great infograph. Disappointment seems a rather essential ingredient.

  10. mshatch says:

    I’m bookmarking this post. Thanks!

  11. Beautiful! And helpful on a personal level, too.

  12. SA Larsenッ says:

    This is just awesome! I love the graphic. Tweeted!!!

  13. Melody says:

    That is quite an infographic! And very helpful for the author, for if we’re going to bring our characters to the lowest of lows, there’s definitely going to be some disappointment involved.

  14. JeffO says:

    That was really interesting, thanks.

  15. Jess says:

    Wow this is awesome.

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