Here’s Exactly How Many Different Emotions You Can Feel, According to Science

Updated: Apr. 22, 2021

Apparently "really pumped" isn't the only emotion there is.


According to the scientific documentary about the inner workings of the adolescent mind, Inside Out, there are approximately five emotions.  Conventional wisdom used to categorize emotion into six categories, then research several years back bumped that down to four, and now and a new study has blown all prior numbers out of the water. As reported by PsychCentral, there are actually 27 emotional categories.

A new study from the University of California Berkeley analyzed over 2,000 emotionally animated video clips shown to over 800 adults and then used statistical models to categorize each one into a different category. When the models had run their course, the research found that there are 27 different distinct categories of emotion.

The findings, which were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, provide a more textured look at emotion, going beyond the traditional notions of anger, surprise, fear, disgust, sadness, and happiness.

Psychology professor Dacher Keltner was one of the study’s lead authors, found that although each of the 27 categorized emotions is distinct, they are all still very much interconnected.

“We found that 27 distinct dimensions, not six, were necessary to account for the way hundreds of people reliably reported feeling in response to each video… We don’t get finite clusters of emotions on the map because everything is interconnected,” says Keltner. 

Emotions can be your friend when it comes to advancing yourself in life (here’s how to improve your emotional intelligence, for example), so a deeper understanding is always something useful. Emotions can erupt in almost any situation, even looking at flowers, so it comes as no surprise that everything might not be as simple as a five category system.

[Source: PsychCentral]