The 5 Types of Basic Human Emotions

5 Types of Basic Human Emotions


We live with our emotions all the time. They are part of who we are and our daily lives. Before we understand a little more about the subject, it is important to be clear that feelings and emotions are different things. It is very common for people to consider synonyms, but in reality, they are not.

Emotion is a set of chemical and neural responses that arise when the brain undergoes an environmental stimulus. A feeling, on the other hand, is a response to emotion, that is, it is about how the person feels in the face of such an emotion. Therefore, although distinct, emotion and feeling are intimately connected.

To be a little clearer, understand that when you are exposed to some kind of situation, the brain releases hormones that change your emotional state. There may even be some physical reactions, such as crying or sweating, for example. It is worth mentioning that in the face of some event, each person has a different emotion and it is usually more fleeting.

On the other hand, the feeling can last a long time. Negative feelings can lead to illnesses such as depression and love that can also last for years and years. Some examples of feelings are hatred, compassion, love, disappointment, and envy.

Types of Basic Human Emotions

Okay, now let’s focus on the emotions! There are three types: primary, secondary, and background.

Primary: are those easily perceived by people, such as fear and joy.

Secondary: not as easy to notice, such as nervousness, guilt, or shame.

Background: they are not noticeable, such as calmness or fatigue. They are difficult to perceive because they are more related to the individual’s internal world than to the external one.

Discover the 5 Basic Emotions

Situations that we experience in everyday life arouse different emotions in us. And did you know that 5 emotions are considered universal? They are fear, sadness, joy, anger, and disgust.

Have you ever remembered the movie Inside Out? That’s right. Animation presents our emotions in a very light and didactic way. If you haven’t watched it yet, we recommend that you take the time to watch this movie.

1. Fear

Fear is a protective mechanism that keeps us alive. Without that emotion, we would put ourselves in dangerous situations without thinking twice about the possible risks. Fear, in turn, prevents this from happening, as it is an involuntary and natural reaction.

You know when you see that giant snake or realize you’re about to suffer an armed robbery? These are some of the situations that cause the brain to be activated involuntarily, releasing substances that trigger the heart, make breathing difficult, etc.

In these cases, you face danger and you know that if you don’t do something you could die, so fear enters the picture. It makes you run far away from the snake and try to run away from the assailant, for example. Whenever you feel afraid, fear will make you react in some way.

2. Rage

Excessive and constant anger can be very harmful to your life, but did you know that this emotion also works as a protective mechanism? The feeling of injustice generates anger so that we can act in favor of what we believe. Therefore, moderate and controlled anger can be useful to help you understand what is wrong in your life and seek motivation for possible solutions. Also, releasing anger helps to release a built-up charge of tension.

However, it is important to stay tuned in to uncontrolled anger. That’s because this emotion can directly interfere with the people around us. Chaotic traffic, meetings, queues, and other types of frustration can generate enormous internal anger. However, the mistake is to let yourself be consumed by this emotion and take it out on those who are by your side.

Of course, stressful moments are part of everyday life and anger will eventually come. In order not to become hostage to emotion, seek to learn how to manage anger healthily so that it does not negatively affect your day-to-day life and your relationships.

3. Happiness

The most positive emotion is joy, which is directly associated with pleasure and happiness. When you reach some personal or professional goal, for example, it is this emotion that takes care of you.

Joy is one of the body’s ways of encouraging action, as well as acting as a reward as well. Imagine that you are looking for a job promotion, working hard, and competing with other employees for that raise. What motivates you? Knowing that if you reach that goal you will be benefited by intense joy, right?

If you can’t, you will probably be overcome by sadness for a certain period, something we don’t like to feel that much. The reward will surely be joy and when we reach it, we want to experience that feeling of pleasure again (that is: we are motivated!).

It’s important to remember that it’s impossible to be happy all the time, so you have to be ready to deal with difficulties and frustrations. Sadness makes up for our emotions because it is important for strengthening and maturing who we are.

4. Disgust

Disgust generates disgust or the need to reject something, creating a distinct feeling of displeasure. A classic example is children who scowl and look disgusted at vegetables – this is a repulsion response to the chance (real or imagined) of ingesting something harmful.

The most common physiological effect, we can mention nausea and gastrointestinal discomfort. The main function of disgust is to avoid any type of stimulus that can cause intoxication. In addition to the issue of ingestion, disgust is also associated with a more social character, for example, through the rejection of social stimuli, situations, or toxic people.

5. Sadness

A state of discouragement, tiredness, and loneliness: this is how we usually define sadness. As much as many people want to escape her, it is necessary to understand that it is a completely normal and healthy emotion. At various times in life, we experience sadness, but it is important to be aware because if this emotion lasts for a long time, it means that the situation may worsen into depression. Common and healthy sadness should be fleeting.

Also understand that this emotion has various levels of intensity, ranging from a state of disappointment to anguish, which is more intense. It can be triggered by various events, such as heartbreak, financial problems, trauma, professional/personal discontent, or some other type of inner conflict.


It’s a lot of emotions, isn’t it? Imagine these are just the 5 universals. There are many others! No wonder human beings are full of complexities.

The Author

Oladotun Olayemi

Dotun is a content enthusiast who specializes in first-in-class content, including finance, travel, crypto, blockchain, market, and business to educate and inform readers.