What Is the Difference Between Emotions and Feelings?

emotions and feelings

It is a very common practice that we think emotions and feelings have the same meanings, but it is not true according to psychology. Emotions and feelings are closely related but different from one another. You can simply say that emotions and feelings are two sides of one coin. The main difference between emotions and feelings is consciousness. Feelings are conscious experiences. For example, if you are feeling pain, you are feeling it in consciousness. On the other hand, Emotions are not conscious. Emotion always manifests in the unconscious mind. For example, if you believing in something, it is your emotion in unconsciousness. In this article, we will try to understand the basic difference between emotions and feelings. We will also discuss which comes first, feeling, or emotion. We will do a comparison between the emotions and feelings at the end of the article.

Which comes first feeling or emotion?

According to general psychology, emotion always comes first, after which people start feeling this emotion according to their nature. We can make it simple for you in the form of an example.

Suppose two persons are watching a funny movie and when the funny scene comes, they start laughing. It is actually an emotion that is coming first through laughing. After this, both persons laugh according to their nature and how they have felt the comedy scene. So, emotion is coming first and feeling afterward.

Feeling is actually the process of feeling or experience an emotion, that is why for starting the process of feeling there should be an emotion first. So, you can simply say that emotions come first and then feelings.

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What Are Emotions?

Emotion is potentially physical and instinctive. You can say that emotions are actually programmed in our genes and we experience them unconsciously. The emotions are very complex physical and cognitive responses. It is very difficult to understand the psyche of emotions. We cannot define the emotions properly but for understanding purposes, the below definition can be very helpful.

“Emotions are specific responses to specific stimulus”

Emotion can be measured through different factors such as blood flow or facial expression etc. Emotions are sudden and you cannot control them even if you want. For example, imagine you are walking on the road lonely and you see a dog running wildly towards you. What you will do in this situation? Certainly, you will run to save yourself, your running is actually your emotion. You will feel a sudden increase in your blood pressure and fading you your facial color. A psychiatrist can easily measure your expression through both these factors.

The limbic system is the most important part of our brain which regulates the emotions. Amygdala is the main part of the limbic system where emotions are processed. There is no relation between thinking and reviewing with the limbic system that is why emotions are illogical and irrational. Emotions are sometimes unreasonable also.

There is no organized list of emotions but some authors have described emotions type. For example, William James has described four types of emotions. Fear, grief, love, and rage. He described these types on the basis of bodily involvement in the emotions.

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What Are Feelings?

Feelings, as we have discussed earlier, are conscious responses towards a stimulus. Feeling is play out in our heading. Feelings can be defined as,

“Feelings are reactions in response to emotion in complete consciousness and mental association”

Approximately four thousand feelings are listed in the English language among which, 500 feelings are very famous. Feelings are far more than emotions. It means that there are multiple feelings for a single emotion. As we have discussed earlier, the emotion comes first and it is natural and universal. Two people may have the same emotion but they will feel it in different ways. The feeling of an emotion is totally dependent on the temperament of the person and the situation also.

Feelings vs. Emotions: What’s the difference?

From the above discussion, you have surely an idea about the major difference in Feelings and emotions. For the purpose of clearing doubts, we are going to describe more differences between Feeling and Emotions.

Emotions are totally event-driven and don’t need any state of consciousness and thinking. On the other hand, feelings are learned behaviors in particular situations. Feelings and emotions are compulsory for each other. Emotions actually act as a trigger of feelings. Joy, for example, is a sudden emotion and if it lasts long in your consciousness also, it becomes a feeling in the form of happiness. Joy is not dependent on the outside condition and environment while happiness is usually induced and dependent on outside conditions. But Joy (an emotion) always comes first and if it stays long, it becomes happiness (feeling).

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For more clarification, we have compared both Emotions and feelings.

Feelings Emotions
Feelings tell us the way of living and how to respond to the situation consciously. Emotions are simply dependent on what you “Like” and what you “Dislike”.
Feeling has an ability to differentiate between right and wrong ways. Emotions can only state good or bad actions.
Feelings are a long-term response and attitude towards situations. Emotions are short-term and not dependent on the situation.
Feelings have low intensity. Emotions are intense and sudden.
Happiness is an example of feeling. Joy is an example of emotion.
Worry is a feeling. Fear is an emotion.
Love is the strongest form of feeling. Attraction and affection is an emotion.


We hope you will have a clear idea about the difference between feelings and emotions after reading this article.

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