Emotional Command Centers

What are Emotional Command Centers?

According to John Gottman Emotional Command Centers:

The emotional command systems are the tracks on which your emotions run. The seven emotional command systems and what they’re responsible for are: Jester: play and fun. Sensualist: attraction and lust. Nest-Builder: affiliation, friendship, care, and nurturing.

John Gottman

I also add the Saboteur which is the voice in our heads always degrading us and telling us we cannot do it. This command center is also responsible for some of our poor impulsive choices.

  • Jester: play and fun
  • Sensualist: attraction and lust
  • Nest-Builder: affiliation, friendship, care, and nurturing
  • Commander-in-Chief: dominance, control, and power
  • Explorer: searching, learning, and goal setting
  • Energy Czar: getting rest, finding food, and staying healthy
  • Sentry: vigilance, defense, and avoiding danger
  • Saboteur


  • When assembling a team, think about command centers as roles.
  • Analogies with other kinds of situation might also be helpful, e.g. think of an ambulance crew, a fire crew, an airplane crew, a racing yacht, dentist and support team, industrial designers, an engine assembly team.
  • Considering the requirements and design of such teams raises questions which can help to improve teambuilding in one’s own situation,
    • Is there a leader?
    • Can all members of the team do all the jobs, or is the mix of skills important?
    • Should all members be rewarded equally?
    • Are some members needed only occasionally?

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