Types of Emotions

When we pass an important test or interview, some of us dance with joy; when we discover the tragic death of a loved one, we are saddened. Excitation and sadness are two distinct emotional states. An individual's internal experience, outward behavior (such as facial expressions), and physiological reactions are all part of the complex psychological phenomena known as emotion.

What is an Emotion?

Emotion is "any disturbance or disruption of thought, feeling, or passion; any intense or aroused mental condition" in the Oxford English Dictionary. The word "emotion" refers to a feeling, as well as the distinct ideas, physical and psychological states, and a variety of behavioral tendencies that go along with it. Emotions are subjective experiences, and while most people will have similar psychological, physiological, and behavioral responses to a particular emotion, each person will have a very different way of completely experiencing and expressing that feeling.

Types of Emotions

Paul Ekman, a psychologist who earned his doctorate in the 20th century, classified emotions into six categories: happiness, sadness, fear, anger, disgust, and surprise. His research revealed that emotions have evolutionary purposes that enable us to deal with life's occurrences without consciously comprehending them. He also emphasized how emotions might be expressed through micro-expressions or unconscious facial movements.


Happiness is the pleasant feelings we experience in response to the enjoyable activities we engage in throughout a normal day. Positive feelings that boost our happiness and motivate us to thrive include pleasure, comfort, gratitude, hope, and inspiration. Happiness is referred to as hedonic in scientific literature, which is defined as the presence of positive emotions and the absence of negative emotions. Over time, studies on happiness have uncovered important correlational factors that affect our level of happiness. These include:

  • Type of Personality
  • Positive vs. Negative Emotions
  • Mindset about Physical Health
  • Social Status and Income
  • Relationship and Attachment
  • Goals and Self-Efficacy
  • Time and Place.


Sadness is a frequently encountered emotion that affects the body and mind and can persist for a short period of several hours. It is an adaptive emotion that may have been preserved by evolution across the phyla because it helps us deal with losses like losing assets, status, friends, children, or romantic relationships. Sadness in humans is indicated by a variety of behaviors (social withdrawal, reduced reward seeking, sluggish gait), a typical facial expression (sagging eyelids, sullen eyes, lowered lip corners, slanting inner eyebrows), physiological changes (heart rate, skin conductance), as well as cognitive and subjective processes. Sometimes, sadness is also referred to as psychological suffering accompanied by additional emotions, including loneliness, misery, despair, worry, grief, and anguish.


Fear acts as a bridging factor between context-dependent stimulus sets and behavioral response sets. Its value is explanatory, and one need not believe it correlates with other psychological or physiological states. Such a variable might adopt a constant set of values inside a person and differ consistently between people, making it a potential candidate for a personality trait. It may be related to genetic variation, at least in part, making it a candidate for an endophenotype.


Anger is an emotional reaction to difficult situations or threats to one's survival. It is a fundamental emotion with adaptive properties connected to biological, psychological, and social survival systems. Its activation is intrinsically linked to the perception of threats, and symbolic structures control this perception. Anger can be either prolonged or disengaged by cognitive processing of circumstances that elicit it. Anger is a high-arousal state that is primed and delineated by neurophysiological arousal. When repeatedly engaged, anger can be an internal stressor and wear and tear on the body. Anger can stimulate violent conduct and is behaviorally linked to approach motivational systems. Even though expressing anger is constrained by social norms, it can be a useful component of an antagonistic coping strategy for everyday stress, especially when dealing with interpersonal conflict. Interpersonal and societal issues arise from the function of anger as a catalyst for violent behavior. Through transdiagnostic mechanisms such as selective attention, threat perception, and rumination, anger dysregulation results in impairment in functioning across life domains and is linked to several mental diseases.


Disgust has been defined as a basic emotion that is recognized across cultures. What a person or society considers to be "disgusting" is, in turn, greatly influenced by culture. Disgust tendencies alter throughout development. Learned experiences explain significant individual variability in either inoculation or susceptibility to disgust-inducing stimuli. In controlled laboratory environments, it is extremely simple to elicit disgust without running the danger of serious ethical problems.


Surprise is a fundamental component of human behavior. Surprising incidents get more of our attention and interest. We gain more knowledge from unexpected facts and are frequently better persuaded by unexpected arguments. What exactly is a surprise? It is the sense of astonishment and wonderment experienced when something unexpected happens. Some people think of it as a belief-based experience that illustrates the likelihood of things happening. However, it also relies on coincidences, gut instincts, and superstitions. Others consider surprise to be an emotion. According to Ekman et al., surprise is a fundamental emotion, along with happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and disgust.


Individuals' emotional experiences can have both positive and negative effects; when the negative effects outweigh the positive effects, the emotion needs to be controlled. We sometimes need to control our emotions. For instance, while certain comedic movies may be ingrained in your memory, you might need to control your laughter when attending a funeral. The ability to cope flexibly with emotional situations by voluntarily adjusting one's emotional reactions is critical for psychological and physical health and social engagement. Successful emotion regulation enables us to minimize unpleasant emotions or emphasize positive aspects of circumstances to cope with disagreeable situations adaptively.