What Are the Different Types of Emotions?

Medically Reviewed by Dany Paul Baby, MD on November 09, 2022
5 min read

Emotions are how you respond to the world around us. They’re an important part of your daily functions and help shape you into who you are. They also contribute to the quality of your life. Emotions tend to play a big part in mental health and wellness. 

What are emotions? How do emotions work? What is the importance of emotions? Where does emotion come from?  

Emotions, feelings, and moods are terms that are often used interchangeably, even when they shouldn’t. These three terms are very distinct. 

Regarding emotions vs. feelings vs. moods, emotion is typically defined as a complicated response to certain situations, often involving behavioral, experiential, and physiological factors. In short, emotions are how you deal with circumstances that are personally important. These experiences can be sorted into three categories: subjective experiences, physiological responses, and behavioral and expressive responses.  

Feelings and moods differ from emotions. Feelings result from an emotional experience, while moods arise from short-lived emotional states. 

What Is the Purpose of Emotions? 

Emotions play many roles in your mental health and well-being: 

  • Emotions help protect, preserve, and enhance your life. 
  • Emotions help you to communicate with others. 
  • Emotions help you to influence others. 
  • Emotions are self-validating.

Emotions significantly affect your ability to perform daily activities and maintain healthy relationships. 

Emotions can also affect your mental health and well-being. Your reaction to specific experiences, feelings, and situations can change throughout the years. When you regulate your emotions well, which is known as emotional wellness or emotional intelligence (EQ), you can have a better grasp of successfully handling stressful situations. Sometimes, overregulation happens, and while it may seem like a person is handling a stressful situation well, it might backfire later on. Emotional wellness will also help you adapt to changes that occur throughout your life and any difficult situations you may encounter. 

How do you improve your emotional well-being? There are a few simple steps to take: 

  • Build resilience: Resilience is when you can control your negative thoughts and emotions and come back faster from stressful situations. Building resilience will help you manage your emotions better. But how do you build resilience? One way to do this is to practice healthy coping strategies.
  • Improve social relationships: As humans, we are social creatures, and social connections and relationships help us thrive. Even for those who call themselves introverts, it’s nice to have at least one or two social connections in life. It could be simply family, neighbors, or colleagues. Scientists are also studying the link between social connections and how they affect our physical and emotional health.
  • Improve your sleep: Sleep is one of the most sacrificial factors in our life. We often limit our sleep hours to fit more errands into our daily lives. However, sleep is important, especially for your emotional well-being, which also affects your mental and physical health. When you lack sleep, your mental function declines. But when you get enough sleep, you’re able to think more concisely, have better reflexes, and can focus better.  
  • Learn to cope with loss: Whether you’ve lost someone, have suffered from a job demotion or firing, or have experienced some other loss in your life, your world is flipped upside down. Losing someone is one of the worst imaginable, and learning how to cope with that loss can feel overwhelming. There are many ways to mourn and grieve, and none of them are right or wrong. Getting support from your loved ones can help push you through the grieving process, but you may need additional help in the form of a therapist. Regardless, learning to cope with these losses will help your emotional well-being when faced with more losses. One way to cope is to come face-to-face with your grief and let it process.
  • Practice mindfulness: You may have heard the term mindfulness before, but you may be unaware of what it actually means. When you reach a state of mindfulness, you become fully aware of what’s going on in your life at present. This includes everything happening inside and outside of your body. Some people live their lives on autopilot while others worry too much about the past and future, which is out of their control. When you practice mindfulness, you live in the present. 
  • Reduce stress: Stress is a normal part of life, but how you handle it will affect your emotional wellness. Stress can sometimes give you a boost of energy, but if it’s long-term, or chronic, then it can hurt in the long run. You must find ways to cope with your stress and boost resilience.

How many emotions are there? What are the types of emotions?

There are six basic emotions: 

  • Anger: Anger results from an emotional state with increased susceptibility to frustration, hostility, and outbursts.
  • Disgust: Disgust occurs as a strong emotional state, usually from feelings of repulsion.
  • Fear: Fear is an emotion that displays itself as a fight, flight, or freeze response, which is important for survival.
  • Happiness: Happiness is one of the more pleasant emotions and occurs through feelings of joy, satisfaction, and contentment.
  • Sadness: Sadness results from feelings of hopelessness, disappointment, and grief.
  • Surprise: The emotional state of surprise is one that is usually brief when it occurs. It can be positive or negative and typically occurs after an unexpected event.

Other types of emotions include: 

  • Interest: Feelings of friendliness, kindness, affection, devotion, and other related feelings.
  • Joy: Similar to happiness, joy shows itself through feelings of enjoyment, relief, delight, and ecstasy.
  • Shame: Shame shows itself through guilt, remorse, regret, and embarrassment.

While these are some examples of common emotions, many more are learned from specific situations, cultures, family members, and other situations. There are also emotions that are combinations of others, such as anticipation, amazement, loathing, boredom, and more.

Examples of Emotions 

What are some examples of emotions? 

Consider this: you’re driving down the highway when a dear runs out in front of your vehicle. You either slam on your brakes to keep from hitting it or swerve your car to the side. What emotion do you think you would feel in this situation? You might feel surprised at the sudden appearance of the deer or fear when you try to avoid hitting it. 

Another example would be that you receive a good grade at school or a promotion at work. Two emotions you might feel would be joy or happiness. 

Finally, you may feel sadness or shame if you’ve accidentally done something to hurt a friend or loved one. 

These are all good examples of emotions and how they come into play.