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How Many Emotions Are There?

How Many Emotions Are There?

Nutricionist Luisa Castillo

11/10/2022 Last modified: 06/11/2023

Human beings are sentient beings, i.e. we feel in response to different stimuli. In this way, with each moment we experience, our body generates different chemical responses to certain stimuli, such as sweating when we feel panic or excitement, or the need to maintain close physical contact with those we find pleasant. But how many emotions are there? Do you know what the basic emotions are? In the following Welthy Magazine article, we tell you everything you need to know about human emotions and the complete list of positive and negative emotions.



In general, and during early research, it was said that humans are capable of processing six basic emotions: disgust, anger, happiness, fear, surprise and sadness.

However, recent studies by Professor of Psychology and Emotion Science expert Dacher Keltner and Alan Cowen, a PhD student in Neuroscience at the University of California at Berkeley, offer a very different view.

Following their study, they have been able to identify a total of 27 different categories of emotion, inferring that there are not finite groups of emotions, but rather a relationship that leads each of them to interconnect with each other, forming a total of 270 human emotions with which we are capable of expressing and relating to each other.

Therefore, and answering the question of how many emotions exist, already answered by the author of the latest study by Alan Cowen, we conclude that there are a total of 27 basic emotions:


  1. Boredom: causes a state of decay or apathy before the rest of the stimuli. Therefore, it implies a drop in performance in the activity to be carried out which, in addition, is accentuated by a false sense of tiredness.
  2. Admiration: this is a positive stimulus that focuses both on a subject and on a circumstance that is capable of evoking in the person a state of enthusiasm or fascination.
  3. Adoration: closely related to the feeling of admiration, but taken to a higher level. The person processes an unconditional love for another person, situation, or even an idea. It is related to the spiritual, hence it is an emotion provoked by an attitude of worship.
  4. Joy: it is an emotion that provokes pleasure. This feeling invites positivity when relating to the environment. In the same way, it produces a comforting feeling of satisfaction and excitement capable of improving communication by the simple fact of wanting to share it with others.
  5. Love: one of the emotions that most needs a connector, be it a person, idea, or thing, to provide a pleasant and balanced state. It is, in turn, linked to other positive feelings related to communication and the sensations produced by an exchange of positive emotions.
  6. Craving: related to desire, it causes a very intense feeling of craving that triggers the need to get what is longed for in order to end other negative emotions such as restlessness or anguish.
  7. Anxiety: an emotion that is triggered by extreme restlessness, usually caused by a state of excitement or insecurity associated with negative feelings or reflecting fears, phobias, mania or obsessions; it can also occur for no apparent reason.
  8. Aesthetic appreciation: this is the emotion determined by the relationship that people establish with different artistic manifestations, generating a sensation of pleasure just by the mere fact of contemplating that which is similar to their tastes.
  9. Astonishment: an emotion that appears as a reaction to surprise or unexpectedness, and can provoke both positive and negative emotions in response to the stimulus received.
  10. Calm: produces a feeling of peace and tranquillity as no sign of danger is perceived. In the same way, the emotion of calm produces a feeling of relaxation capable of overcoming other emotions such as anxiety or fear.
  11. Confusion: a feeling of frustration produced by the clear mental disorder of not knowing how to react to the different stimuli that are presented to us. An emotion related to others such as bewilderment, uneasiness and perplexity.
  12. Carnal desire: one of the basic and primary emotions produced as a response to a stimulus of attraction towards another person and which triggers an impulse or need to relate in an intimate way.
  13. Disgust: provoked by a feeling of anger, heaviness or boredom when faced with the impossibility of resolving a situation as desired.
  14. Fun: a positive emotion that is generated by a situation that induces pleasure related to an activity that pleases us, whether shared with other like-minded people or alone. A similar emotion to those experienced in recreation or entertainment.
  15. Empathic pain: a shared emotion that is produced by being able to put ourselves in the shoes of the person who suffers from it. This empathy can produce a similar feeling from the pain sufferer to the point where it is just as real in their head and therefore has negative consequences.
  16. Anger: negative emotion towards a person as a consequence of an unpleasant situation. The feeling of disgust produced by the harm, both physical and psychological, can cause both revulsion and anger towards the person who has triggered the conflict.
  17. Envy: an emotion that reflects a feeling, usually negative, towards another person who possesses what is desired. The intention to achieve a real resemblance to the person can lead to other negative emotions such as disgust or positive ones in the case of admiration.
  18. Ecstasy: an emotion caused by a feeling of extreme joy and which, unlike joy, is experienced only temporarily. It can also cause people in this state not to act according to their usual mental pattern.
  19. Horror: related to fear, but, like worship or ecstasy, is a much more intense feeling. It usually provokes in turn a strong feeling of aversion and revulsion to the extreme panic situation, regardless of whether it is fictitious or real.
  20. Interest: This emotion appears both when something is perceived as having the potential to be of value or benefit to us and when something arouses our curiosity.
  21. Fear: Fear is one of our most basic emotions, probably even the most primitive of them all. Fear puts our whole body and mind in a state of alert when it perceives some stimulus with the potential to represent a danger, both to our physical integrity and to our goals.
  22. Nostalgia: We feel nostalgia when, remembering a stimulus that gave us pleasure and that we no longer have, we are overcome by sadness. It is a very broad-spectrum emotion, as it can be felt both for people and for missing objects, places or even situations or activities.
  23. Satisfaction: Satisfaction appears whenever a goal, desire or need is fulfilled. It is a positive emotion, which can be amplified depending on how long it has taken to reach the goal.
  24. Sympathy: Much has been written about it and it can be one of the most complex, but in simple terms, the emotion of sympathy is simply that which occurs when two people achieve a certain positive inclination towards each other, with affective relationships and bonds of very different intensity and characteristics.
  25. Sadness: Sadness is the emotion that activates the psychological process that allows us to overcome losses, disappointments or failures. It allows us to establish distance from painful situations in order to promote the internalisation and healing of the pain generated by them.
  26. Triumph: Close to satisfaction, the emotion of triumph appears when someone is particularly proud of having achieved a particular goal, a particular feat or simply the direction they have managed to take in their life. It is a way of feeling that success has been achieved.
  27. Embarrassment: When we feel that we have been humiliated or that we have done something that has made our public image or reputation look bad, this negative emotion comes rushing up, usually making us want to leave the place and avoid thinking about the situation we have experienced.


However, when talking about basic emotions, according to Roberto Aguado and his 2005 study, one of the most recent, the basic emotional universe is composed of a total of 10 basic emotions: 

  1. Admiration
  2. Joy
  3. Disgust
  4. Guilt
  5. Curiosity
  6. Anger
  7. Fear
  8. Safety
  9. Surprise
  10. Sadness


Likewise, these basic emotions have a clear adaptive function that entails the direct implication produced by the different behaviours to be taken depending on the person. 

Thus, we know that admiration is closely related to the need to imitate, curiosity expands the possibilities of increasing knowledge by encouraging exploration, fear prepares us to face danger, and sadness leads to reconciliation and introspection, among other examples. 

Understanding the actual function of the basic emotions, we can conclude that their main function is to ensure our survival. But, if we take into account the current framework in which we find ourselves, it is necessary to expand these functions a little more so that, instead of seeing them as a form of physical protection, they function as a guarantee of mental health, by knowing how to interpret what triggers each one of them and what type of secondary emotions derive from them, depending on the person exposed to the situation.



The 10 basic emotions serve as a basis for drawing up a complete list of the rest of the secondary or complex emotions that human beings can express. Specifically, we can talk about a total of 270 human emotions which, in turn, are divided into 70 positive emotions, 130 negative, and 70 variable, or those that depend on the situation that frames them.

Complete list of positive emotions:

  • Acceptance
  • Accompaniment
  • Admiration
  • Affection
  • Appreciation
  • Joy
  • Relief
  • Kindness
  • Love
  • Attachment
  • Support
  • Appreciation
  • Approval
  • Harmony
  • Autonomy
  • Benevolence
  • Kindness
  • Affection
  • Compassion
  • Competence
  • Complacency
  • Understanding
  • Commitment
  • Concentration
  • Confidence
  • Contentment
  • Care
  • Dignity
  • Empathy
  • Charm
  • Enthusiasm
  • Energetic
  • Hope
  • Esteem
  • Euphoria
  • Happiness
  • Fervour
  • Firmness
  • Fortitude
  • Generosity
  • Joy
  • Honesty
  • Humility
  • Enthusiasm
  • Integrity
  • Interest
  • Justice
  • Joy
  • Freedom
  • Achievement
  • Motivation
  • Omnipotence
  • Optimism
  • Pride
  • Passion
  • Peace
  • Pleasure
  • Fulfilment
  • Respect
  • Satisfaction
  • Security
  • Sympathy
  • Solidarity
  • Sufficiency
  • Temperance
  • Tolerance
  • Vitality
  • Ecstasy

Complete list of negative emotions:

  • Abandonment
  • Despondency
  • Boredom
  • Abuse
  • Distress
  • Overwhelm
  • Aggravation
  • Aggression
  • Bitterness
  • Anguish
  • Anxiety
  • Disgust
  • Frightened
  • Absence
  • Jealousy
  • Censorship
  • Contradiction
  • Guilt
  • Anger
  • Disappointment
  • Dependence
  • Depression
  • Defeat
  • Discouragement
  • Heartbreak
  • Helplessness
  • Unrest
  • Bewilderment
  • Distrust
  • Disregard
  • Disconsolation
  • Unhappiness
  • Disenchantment
  • Despair
  • Listlessness
  • Disillusionment
  • Demotivation
  • Desolation
  • Disorientation
  • Contempt
  • Discredit
  • Deprotection
  • Destruction
  • Destitution
  • Misfortune
  • Despondency
  • Devaluation
  • Dysphoria
  • Disgust
  • Grief
  • Grief
  • Anger
  • Deception
  • Prosecution
  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Envy
  • Fright
  • Stress
  • Stupor
  • Exasperation
  • Annoyance
  • Annoyance
  • Phobia
  • Failure
  • Fragility
  • Frustration
  • Rage
  • Famine
  • Fed up
  • Hostility
  • Humiliation
  • Impatience
  • Imperturbability
  • Impotence
  • Inability
  • Incompatibility
  • Incomprehensibility
  • Incongruence
  • Indignation
  • Instability
  • Unhappiness
  • Inferiority
  • Injustice
  • Dissatisfaction
  • Insecurity
  • Inadequacy
  • Intolerance
  • Anger
  • Irritation
  • Pity
  • Manipulation
  • Melancholy
  • Contempt
  • Meanness
  • Fear
  • Annoyance
  • Necessity
  • Obscurity
  • Hatred
  • Offended
  • Panic
  • Paralysis
  • Awe
  • Grief
  • Sloth
  • Gloom
  • Pessimism
  • Petrification
  • Worry
  • Prepotency
  • Modesty
  • Rage
  • Jealousy
  • Remorse
  • Resentment
  • Loneliness
  • Fear
  • Stubbornness
  • Terror
  • Betrayal
  • Sadness
  • Hesitation
  • Emptiness
  • Courage
  • Revenge
  • Shame

Full list of variable emotions:

  • Alarm
  • Alteration
  • Ambivalence
  • Apathy
  • Regret
  • Arrogance
  • Awe
  • Attraction
  • Longing
  • Calm
  • Closeness
  • Condescension
  • Commitment
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Comfort
  • Correspondence
  • Curiosity
  • Desire
  • Desire
  • Bliss
  • Domination
  • Doubt
  • Equanimity
  • Exaltation
  • Excitement
  • Strangeness
  • Frenzy
  • Impulsive
  • Nonconformity
  • Disbelief
  • Indifference
  • Restlessness
  • Inspiration
  • Intrepidity
  • Intrigue
  • Invasion
  • Lust
  • Nostalgia
  • Obligation
  • Obstinacy
  • Ostentation
  • Patience
  • Paranoia
  • Persecution
  • Belonging
  • Rebellion
  • Rejection
  • Rejoicing
  • Repudiation
  • Resentment
  • Reservation
  • Resignation
  • Serenity
  • Seriousness
  • Pride
  • Submission
  • Surprise
  • Calmness
  • Submission
  • Temptation
  • Tenderness
  • Shyness
  • Trance
  • Tranquility
  • Turmoil
  • Unity
  • Courage
  • Valuation
  • Vulnerability

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