8 Types Of Emotions: Understanding The Range Of Human Feelings

Emotions are one of the essential parts of our life, and they can be defined as a challenging psychological state that involves three components. 

These components are subjective, physiological experience, and behavioral expression. The primary emotions are universal across all cultures and are believed to have some biological basis. 

You can get all the information here if you are new to basic emotions.

What Are The Main Emotions?

Basic emotions are primary emotions set to be universal across all species and cultures. Researchers have also identified a small number of primary emotions thought to be distinct and innate. 

It means that they are not learned through experience. Instead, they are supposed to be a part of biological makeup.

These basic emotions are considered universal because they are observed across various cultures, age groups, and species and expressed differently across multiple individuals.

  • The primary emotions are joy, sadness, fear, anger, surprise, disgust, and contempt.
  • All these emotions have physiological, behavioral, and subjective components that can be observed and measured.
  • For instance, joy or happiness is expressed through smiling, laughing, and positive verbalizations.
  • At the same time, sadness is often expressed through crying, withdrawal, and negative verbalizations.
  • These basic emotions are essential in human experience as they help us respond to the world around us and communicate with people.
  • They also allow us to make good decisions. For example, fear helps us to identify all the potential threats and take action to avoid any danger, while anger can motivate us to take action to change the situation that we perceive as unfair or unjust for

Even though basic emotions are considered unique, they are challenging and can be experienced in various situations and contexts. 

For example, joy can be experienced in response to achieving a goal, spending time with loved ones, or engaging in enjoyable activities. 

Similarly, sadness can be experienced in response to the loss of a loved one or the end of a relationship.

It is their role; individual experiences and emotions are crucial in social interactions. Emotions help us communicate with others, express our needs and desires, and build social connections. 

They also help people understand the emotions of others, empathize with their experiences and respond appropriately to their needs.

How Can You Express Your Emotions?

Basic emotions are expressed through physical expressions, verbalizations, and body language. 

These expressions can be challenging and vary depending on the individual, the culture, and the context. 

Understanding how people show basic emotions is essential to effective communication and social interaction. 

It can help you empathize with others, express your feelings and build great relationships.

The Main Types Of Emotions

Each of these basic emotions plays a crucial role in the human experience. They help you to navigate your environment, communicate with others and make decisions. 

While each feeling can be experienced differently, researchers have identified some situations or events likely to elicit specific emotions. 

For instance, joy and happiness are linked with achieving a goal. Besides that, their roles in individual experience emotions also play a crucial role in social interactions.

Emotions help you to communicate with others and express your needs and desires. They allow you to understand the emotion of others, empathize with their experiences and respond appropriately to their needs.


Happiness is a positive emotional state associated with pleasure, contentment, and satisfaction. It would be characterized by joy, optimism, and enthusiasm. 

Happiness relates to positive events like spending time with loved ones or experiencing something we enjoy.

When you express happiness, you tend to have positive thoughts and emotions, generally, more satisfied with your life.

  • Happiness is also linked with better physical health, like lower blood pressure, better immune system function, and a long life span.
  • Joy and happiness being positive emotions, are expressed in different ways. Smiling is one of the most common ways to express joy or happiness, as it is a universal sign of happiness or pleasure.


Sadness is a negative emotional state linked with loss, disappointment, and grief. 

Feelings of despair and hopelessness characterize it; sadness is also connected with adverse events like losing your loved one, ending a relationship, or even failing to achieve any objective you want to achieve badly.

When you experience sadness, you have negative thoughts and emotions, and they are generally less satisfied with your life.

  • Sadness can also have physical impacts like changes in appetite, sleep patterns, and energy levels. Being a negative emotion, it is expressed in different ways.
  • One of the most common ways to express your sadness is through crying.
  • Tears are the universal way of sadness, and a withdrawn posture or downturned mouth can accompany them. 


Anger is a negative emotional state that is linked with feelings of frustration and hostility. It is characterized by a strong desire to react aggressively and assertively toward the anger source. 

Anger is typically connected with situations where your goals, needs, or desires are blocked.

When you experience anger, you are likely to have negative thoughts and emotions, and you are not expected to be satisfied with your life.

  • It can also have negative impacts physically on your body, like increased heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension.
  • When you are angry, you express yourself in different ways. Physical expressions include clenched fists, gritted teeth, or furrowed brows.
  • People might also express anger through shouting or aggressive body language, like standing over somebody or entering their personal space.
  • Negative verbalizations like I am so mad, or cannot believe you did also come in ways to express anger.


Fear is a negative emotional state linked to danger or threat. It would be categorized by feelings of anxiety and closed up. 

It is typically connected with a situation with a lot of harm, like encountering a wild animal or being in an accident.

When you encounter fear, you are likely to have negative thoughts and emotions, and you might become more cautious and vigilant in response to the perceived threat.

  • Anxiety can also have physical effects like increased heart rate, muscle tension, and rapid breathing.
  • Physical expressions of fear might include rapid heartbeat or sweating. People would express fear by freezing or just by running away.
  • Negative verbalizations like being scared or unable to do this are common ways to express fear.


It is a negative emotional state linked with feelings of aversion or repulsion. It would be characterized by a desire to avoid or reject something perceived as unclean or unpleasant. The emotion is linked to bodily fluids, waste products, or spoiled food.

People who experience this feeling are likely to have negative emotions and thoughts, and they might feel physically ill or nauseous in response to the perceived stimulus.

  • The surface can also have behavioral impacts like avoidance or rejection of the perceived stimulus.
  • It is expressed differently, like physical expressions, including wrinkled noses or gagging. You might also experience disgust through avoidance or just turning away from something unpleasant.
  • Negative verbalizations like saying this is disgusting or no longer stand it are common ways to express emotion.


Surprise is a neutral state that is linked with unexpected or novel events. This is characterized by a brief moment of confusion or disorientation followed by an emotional appraisal of the situation. Surprise is typically linked with unexpected situations, like a surprise party or shocking news.

When you experience a surprise, you have neutral or positive thoughts and emotions, and they might become more attentive or curious in response to the unexpected stimulus.

  • Surprises are positive emotions expressed differently, including raised eyebrows, widened mouth, or open mouth. 
  • You might also express surprise differently, like gasping or I cannot believe it. 
  • Positive verbalizations like saying this is amazing or So surprised are common ways to express surprise.


Contempt is a negative emotional state that is linked with feelings of disrespect. It is directed towards people or groups who are perceived to be socially or morally inferior, like those who violate social norms or are seen as we call vulnerable.

It can be expressed through behaviors like eye rolling or sneezing. Contempt is more of a complex emotion linked to feelings of superiority or disdain. It is a sign of disrespect or disapproval.

Key Takeaways

  • Basic emotions are universal across species and cultures: Joy, sadness, fear, anger, surprise, disgust, and contempt are innate and distinct emotions.
  • Components of emotions: Emotions consist of subjective experience, physiological responses, and behavioral expressions.
  • Role of emotions: Emotions are crucial for human experience, social interactions, decision-making, and building connections. They help understand and empathize with others’ emotions.
  • Expression of emotions: Emotions are expressed through physical expressions, verbalizations, and body language, varying among individuals, cultures, and contexts.
  • Emotional impact: Each basic emotion has unique characteristics and effects. Happiness is linked to positive events, sadness to loss, anger to frustration, fear to perceived danger, disgust to aversion, surprise to unexpected events, and contempt to disrespect.


Are these emotions universal?

Yes, these emotions are considered universal across cultures and species.

How are emotions expressed?

Emotions are expressed through physical expressions, verbalizations, and body language.

Are these emotions experienced differently by individuals?

Yes, individuals may experience these emotions in different ways based on their unique circumstances and personal interpretations.

How do emotions help us in social interactions?

Emotions help us communicate, express our needs, empathize with others, and build social connections.

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