Once upon a time, scientists were convinced that humans only have six basic emotions: Happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise, and disgust. Then they thought, “Wait! We’re wrong! There are only four emotions!”: Happiness, sadness, fear/anger, and anger/disgust. But it turns out they were wrong again; 15 additional emotions have just been identified, giving us a total of 21. So go ahead! Feel all the feels! Apparently we’re allowed to now!
The Ohio State University study that discovered these new feelings describes them as “compound emotions.” They’re expressed by combining the six basic emotions we originally thought we had, kind of the way you can combine primary colors like blue and yellow to make green. All 15 of these compound emotions are distinguishable from each other, so “happily surprised” reads as quite different from “fearfully surprised” or “happily disgusted.”
Here's my disgusted face:
I’ll be honest: I’m not that (angrily) surprised. It makes sense that there would be a collection of basic emotions from whence all other emotions emerge; at the same time, though, there’s so much nuance in the world that it seemed kind of limiting to cap off the number of every single human emotion at six or four. Besides, as researcher and University of Ohio associate professor Aleix Martinez says, knowing that there are a whopping 21 emotions to choose from will help scientists better understand what goes on in our brains when we feel them. We’ll be able to learn more about psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia and developmental ones like autism; it might help people suffering from face blindness; it could even help to create better human-computer interaction systems (robots, essentially).
Here. Have a sleepy kitten:
How do you feel now?