What Are the 27 Basic Emotions?

Medically Reviewed on 12/1/2020

There are several theories of emotion that define the many different types of emotions in various ways.
There are several theories of emotion that define the many different types of emotions in various ways.

There are several theories of emotion that define the many different types of emotions in various ways. Some theories say there are eight basic emotions, while others say there are more. The discrete emotion theory claims that there are 12 discrete emotions (as measured via the Differential Emotions Scale), whereas according to the latest research conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, 27 distinct categories of emotions have been identified. Thousands of individuals were studied, as well as their responses to different videos, music, and various situations were analyzed to determine the types of emotional categories that were truly distinct.

When people do not understand their emotions well and are clueless regarding the emotions of others, it can often lead to misunderstandings and affect relationships, personal or professional. A big part of management, leadership, sales, and navigating relationships is being able to understand how people feel and responding appropriately. Forming and maintaining friendships and relationships requires an understanding of oneself and the other person to maintain harmony. Hence, professional and personal interactions would be a lot easier if people were aware of the different emotions. The 27 different emotions include:

  1. Admiration
  2. Adoration
  3. Aesthetic appreciation
  4. Amusement
  5. Anxiety
  6. Awe
  7. Awkwardness
  8. Boredom
  9. Calmness
  10. Confusion
  11. Craving
  12. Disgust
  13. Empathetic pain
  14. Entrancement
  15. Envy
  16. Excitement
  17. Fear
  18. Horror
  19. Interest
  20. Joy
  21. Nostalgia
  22. Romance
  23. Sadness
  24. Satisfaction
  25. Sexual desire
  26. Sympathy
  27. Triumph

What are the other theories of emotion?

Discrete emotion theory

This theory states that certain specific core emotions are biologically determined. These emotional responses are fundamentally the same for all individuals irrespective of ethnicity or cultural differences. Various parts of the brain can trigger different emotions. For example, the amygdala is the center of fear and maternal bonding. The amygdala senses fear resulting in certain physical actions and emotions. Research has shown that deaf and blind individuals also show the typical facial expressions for these same core emotions.

The 12 emotions according to the discrete emotion theory include:

  1. Interest
  2. Joy
  3. Surprise
  4. Sadness
  5. Anger
  6. Disgust
  7. Contempt
  8. Self-hostility
  9. Fear
  10. Shame
  11. Shyness
  12. Guilt

Robert Plutchik’s theory

This theory claims that there are eight basic emotions:

  1. Fear
  2. Sadness
  3. Anger
  4. Joy
  5. Surprise
  6. Disgust
  7. Anticipation
  8. Trust

Book two of Aristotle's theory

According to this theory, there are 9 emotions, which include:

  1. Anger
  2. Friendship
  3. Fear
  4. Shame
  5. Kindness
  6. Pity
  7. Indignation (feeling of anger when something is unfair)
  8. Envy
  9. Love

Charles Darwin theory

The Expressions of the Emotions in Man and Animals by Charles Darwin claims there are around 34 emotions, which are still used as a source.

  1. Joy
  2. Love
  3. Devotion
  4. Tender feelings
  5. Suffering
  6. Weeping
  7. High spirits
  8. Low spirits
  9. Anxiety
  10. Grief
  11. Dejection
  12. Despair
  13. Anger
  14. Hatred
  15. Disdain
  16. Contempt
  17. Disgust
  18. Guilt
  19. Pride
  20. Helplessness
  21. Patience
  22. Affirmation
  23. Negation
  24. Surprise
  25. Fear
  26. Self-attention
  27. Shyness
  28. Modesty
  29. Blushing
  30. Reflection
  31. Mediation
  32. Ill-temper
  33. Sulkiness
  34. Determination


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Medically Reviewed on 12/1/2020
Wei M. There Are 27 Different Emotions, New Study Suggests. Psychology Today. September 11, 2017. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/urban-survival/201709/there-are-27-different-emotions-new-study-suggests

Johnson G. Theories of Emotion. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. https://iep.utm.edu/emotion/