Emotion is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “a natural instinctive state of mind arising from circumstances, mood, or relationships with others.” Depending on which psychological theory or research study you’re referring to, there are anywhere from 4 to 34,000 emotions — and none of them would actually be wrong.
A 2019 study published in the journal frontiers in psychology1, for example, suggests that there are four types of basic emotions: happiness, sadness, fear, and anger. But if we start digging a little deeper, we understand that happiness can encompass anything from joy to curiosity to love, while anxiety can encompass anything from anxiety to fear to panic.
Additional research has identified 27 core emotions, while another popular theory of emotions developed by psychologist Robert Plutchik, Ph.D. was developed states that humans have the ability to experience over 34,000 unique emotions. Plutchik and other theorists have often presented these different types of feelings as an emotion wheel, such as the following:
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