There are many different types of emotions that have an influence on how we live and interact with others. At times, it may seem like we are ruled by these emotions. The choices we make, the actions we take, and the perceptions we have are all influenced by the emotions we are experiencing at any given moment.
Psychologists have also tried to identify the different types of emotions that people experience. A few different theories have emerged to categorize and explain the emotions that people feel.
During the 1970s, psychologist Paul Eckman identified six basic emotions that he suggested were universally experienced in all human cultures. The emotions he identified were happiness, sadness, disgust, fear, surprise, and anger. He later expanded his list of basic emotions to include such things as pride, shame, embarrassment, and excitement.
Psychologist Robert Plutchik put forth a “wheel of emotions” that worked something like the color wheel. Emotions can be combined to form different feelings, much like colors can be mixed to create other shades.
According to this theory, the more basic emotions act something like building blocks. More complex, sometimes mixed emotions, are blendings of these more basic ones. For example, basic emotions such as joy and trust can be combined to create love.
A 2017 study suggests that there are far more basic emotions than previously believed. In the study published in Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, researchers identified 27 different categories of emotion.
Rather than being entirely distinct, however, the researchers found that people experience these emotions along a gradient.1 Let’s take a closer look at some of the basic types of emotions and explore the impact they have on human behavior.