The 6 basic emotions: our common basis
In humans, emotion inherently includes psychological behavior (there is a reaction in our brain), expressive behavior (a facial expression, for example) and awareness (we know that something is happening, we’re aware of our emotions). We all feel a range of emotions on a daily basis and we make a distinction between primary or basic emotions and secondary or complex emotions. Faced with the complexity of the emotional world, psychologists have attempted to classify emotions into categories.
They note 6 basic, primary or fundamental emotions:
To which we sometimes add contempt.
These basic emotions are already present in babies, they are also found in primates and above all, they’re universal. That’s to say that wherever in the world you are, whatever the culture or origins of a person, we can recognize and identify these 6 emotions on any face.
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50 shades of emotions
Obviously, we’re not only led by these 6 primary emotions, each one comes in a multitude of shades. We know many other feelings: shame, guilt, pride, desire, etc. These are emotions just as strong as primary emotions, but they’re a mixture of the 6 basic emotions. Paul Ekman, an American psychologist and pioneer in the study of emotions, indicates for example that shame is a mixture of fear and anger.
Finally, these secondary emotions arrive in humans as they grow up. Jealousy and embarrassment appear for example in children aged 15 to 24 months, while guilt and pride are more likely to be felt around the age of 3.
Why are the majority of emotions negative?
If we analyze the basic emotions a little, we note that the majority of emotions are unpleasant. And indeed, according to studies and work carried out in psychology dealing with emotions and feelings, we feel many more unpleasant emotions than pleasant ones, but why? Simply to satisfy our need.
Humans need to achieve their objectives quickly. In order to be guided more quickly and precisely towards our need to satisfy, we need an unpleasant emotion, which is nevertheless always useful. Emotions are guides that put us into action and direct us to the reaction the most adapted to our environment.
Editor’s note: An emotion is fleeting
Every emotion carries a message. Whether positive or negative, remember that an emotion is only fleeting. Instead of repressing, ignoring or stifling it, it’s better to accept it and hear what it has to say. If you have problems managing your emotions, don’t hesitate to contact one of our professionals.
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