Difference Between Emotion and Feeling

What’s the difference between emotion and feeling? Although they are used as synonyms, the words emotion and feeling have distinct meanings. To understand, it is important to have the knowledge that an emotion creates a feeling. In turn, this can create new emotions and other feelings.

Difference Between Emotion and Feeling

Basically, emotions and feelings are strictly related.This is because, as an emotion generates a feeling, which in turn can initiate emotions, a psychological cycle is in constant development.

  Emotion Feeling
Definition Brain reaction to an environmental stimulus. The result of an emotional experience.
Types Primary, secondary and background. -
  • Joy
  • Surprise
  • Anger
  • Panic
  • Love
  • Happiness
  • Hate
  • Envy

What is emotion?

An emotion is a reaction to an environmental stimulus. In this sense, they can cause subjective experiences and even neurobiological alterations. They occur in a subcortical region of the brain and can generate changes in the body.

When exposed to some emotion, the brain releases hormones that alter the emotional state of the person. This means that physical reactions such as palpitations, crying, sweat, and even unexplained pains can occur.

However, unlike feelings, generated from emotions, these reactions are automatic.In other words, in the face of some event, each person will undergo a distinct emotion, which is instantly developed in the brain.

Therefore, they are generally related to communication, because they are perceptible by other individuals around the emotional person. Therefore, it is possible to identify the origin of emotion if it is analyzed at the moment, because they are generated by facts.

Nevertheless, one person can have a different emotion from the other in an identical case. This is because they also depend on each other’s life experience, their beliefs and feelings, which are far more complex than emotions.

This explains why in some cases certain individuals respond in a different way to certain events.

Types of emotions

Emotions can be primary, secondary, and background. In this sense, it can be said that the primaries are the ones most perceptible by those around, such as panic or joy.

Secondary emotions are not always visible, because they can be emotions of nervousness, shame or guilt.

The background emotions are those not perceptible, which provide a form of good or uneasiness, such as calm or anguish.


Emotions cause physical reactions. Although some individuals are able to control these reactions so that they do not affect the surrounding world, many consider it extremely difficult to keep emotions under control.

Below we list some examples:

  • When flying from Rio de Janeiro to São Paulo, the plane passes through an area of turbulence and generates a panic attack (an emotion) in a passenger. This is assisted by the flight attendant, who has a life experience different from that of the passenger, and can act to try to calm her.
  • After a heated discussion at a bar after two beers, two men end up getting involved in a fight. The conflict was initiated because one disagreed with what the other believed, which generated emotions of irritability, which consequently led to a reaction to initiate a struggle between the discordant.
  • A hunter is confronted by a wolf, which triggered an emotion of nervousness.However, because he is accustomed to this type of situation, the individual manages to keep the reactions under control and to think quickly in the best strategy to not suffer an attack on the part of the animal.

What is feeling?

Feeling is the result of an emotional experience. In this sense, the reactions generated by the emotions consciously will be the triggers for the creation of feelings. Usually, they are sensations that happen in the “bottom of the mind” and can be easily hidden from around the world.

Understanding the relationship between emotions and feelings is crucial to self-knowledge. This is because a feeling is something profound and that can be disguised by the individual. So it is extremely important to have someone trustworthy with whom the person can share their feelings.

Unlike emotions, feelings may not be passengers, and in some cases, they can last their entire lives. Cases of negative feelings (such as deep sadness) can cause diseases such as depression.

Although they are less intense than emotions, feelings last much longer. What can be good (like a feeling of love) or bad (like a feeling of hatred).

Moreover, the cause of feeling is not easily identified, which can generate anguish and suffering for those who deal with negative feelings. Because it is extremely intimate, suffering can go unnoticed by everyone.

Examples of feelings

Generally speaking, feelings are seen as a mental disposition towards something or someone. Among the examples of feeling, one can cite:

  • Love
  • Happiness
  • Hate
  • Jealous
  • Compassion
  • Disappointment.

These are just some of the most common feelings of human beings, since depending on the individual, several others may present themselves. There is the feeling of curiosity, gratitude, justice, fear, among hundreds of others.

Emotion vs feeling

As seen, emotions are brain reactions before an event and may even be physical. However, they are fleas and can generate feelings or not. Already a feeling, created from an emotion, is enduring.

For example: If a human being is walking through a forest and is caught with a tiger, it will immediately be taken by a panic emotion.

This emotion will make the brain release hormones for the individual to react to the situation to save himself. This generates what psychology calls a fighting or escape behavior.

However, if a human being is thinking of a tiger and his animal instinct, that he would not hesitate to attack a person, the feeling is of fear. This is because it is not face to face with the animal that brings the feeling to the surface. If I was, I’d be a thrill.