Psychology: Humans express far more than six categories of emotions

More categories of emotional responses than previously thought
So far, experts assumed that people can experience the following six emotions: happiness, sadness, anger, fear, disgust, and surprise. But researchers have now found that there are actually 27 separate categories of human emotions.

The University of California, Berkeley researchers found that people seem to be able to feel 27 different categories of emotions. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" (PNAS).

Participants saw various emotional video clips
For their investigation, the researchers analyzed the reactions of more than 800 men and women to over 2,000 emotional video clips using novel statistical models. The doctors identified 27 different categories of emotions and created a multidimensional, interactive map. This shows how the emotions are connected. It took 27 different categories of emotions to describe the feelings and reactions to the videos, not just six, as previously assumed, explains author Professor Dacher Keltner from the University of California, Berkeley.

Findings could lead to improved psychiatric treatment
Contrary to the idea that each emotional state stands on its own, the study found that all emotions are related. Emotional experiences are much more extensive and nuanced than previously thought, explains author Dr. Alan Cowen. "Our hope now is that the findings will help other scientists and medical professionals to grasp the emotional states that underlie moods, brain activity and expressive signals," the expert continued. According to Dr. Cowen lead to improved psychiatric treatment.

853 participants viewed a selection of 2,185 emotional video clips
For the study, a demographically diverse group of 853 men and women watched a random sample of 5 to 10 second videos online, which should evoke a wide range of emotions. The topics from the 2,185 video clips collected from various online sources for the study included births and babies, weddings, deaths and sufferings, spiders and snakes, physical falls, sexual acts, and natural disasters.

Subjects were divided into three groups
Three separate groups of study participants watched the sequences of videos and then reported their emotions. The first group reported their emotional reactions to 30 different video clips. The answers reflected a rich and nuanced set of emotional states, adds Dr. Cowen added.

Subjects rated the occurrence of feelings that were triggered by the videos
The second group of test subjects used the videos to assess how different feelings they had. These included admiration, aesthetic appreciation, pleasure, anger, fear, awe, boredom, calm, confusion, contempt, desire, disappointment, disgust, empathic pain, envy, excitement, fear, guilt, terror, interest, joy, nostalgia, Pride, romance, sadness, contentment, sexual desire, surprise, sympathy and triumph.

Scientists identify a total of 27 different categories of emotions
The doctors noticed that more than half of the participants showed the same category of emotions for each video. The third group rated their emotional responses to each video on a scale of 1 to 9. The researchers were able to predict how participants would rate the videos depending on what emotions the previous participants had experienced. Overall, the results showed that study participants typically had the same or similar emotional reactions to each video. By evaluating a wealth of data, the scientists were able to identify 27 different categories of emotions according to their own information. (as)

Author and source information

Video: The Atlas of Emotions with Dr. Paul Ekman and Dr. Eve Ekman (June 2021).