Scientists have identified 27 distinct types of emotions, challenging a long-held assumption that our feelings fall within the universal categories of happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear and disgust.
Using novel statistical models to analyse the responses of more than 800 men and women to over 2,000 emotionally evocative video clips, researchers at University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) in the US identified 27 distinct categories of emotion and created a multidimensional, interactive map to show how they are connected.
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. in contrast to the notion that each emotional state is an island, the study found that “there are smooth gradients of emotion between, say, awe and peacefulness, horror and sadness, and amusement and adoration.
“We do not get finite clusters of emotions in the map because everything is interconnected,” said Alan Cowen, a doctoral student in neuroscience at UC Berkeley. Emotional experiences are so much richer and more nuanced than previously thought.