Being human is being emotional: No matter your age or background, everything you do and think is enriched by emotions.

Think of an emotion – what comes to mind first? Hope perhaps, or anger, fear, sadness, or pride. Indeed, these are some well-known emotions, but our repertoire includes many more shades of emotions. In fact, there are at least 60 different emotions, each with unique qualities and experiences. The pallet of human emotions is highly diverse, not just in terms of how we feel them but also in terms of why we have them and how they influence our actions. They urge us to laugh, cry, examine, withdraw, confront, or comfort. They influence the mundane as well as the profound – from our choice of coffee to our political stance and our choice of life partner.

Emotional Granularity
The ability to grasp the differences between emotions is called “emotional granularity”. A person with high emotional granularity can see nuanced differences between emotions. For example, they can tell the difference between fascination and inspiration or embarrassment and shame. They can label their own emotions with precision and likewise the emotions of others.

Emotion Typology
The emotion typology is a systematic classification of emotions according to their differences and similarities. It is a resource for emotional granularity – its goal is to inspire you with rich information on the nuances of emotions and encourage you to explore these nuances in your own work or life. The typology can be used by anyone interested in nuanced information on emotion: a scientist, a student, a coach, or anyone else who is interested in human emotion.

The emotion typology is one of the richest emotion resources in the world.

Discover the nuances of emotion
The emotion typology is an open-access online database that provides detailed information on positive and negative emotions. It includes 60 emotions, of which 24 are positive and 36 are negative. For each emotion, the database provides the following information:

  • formal definition
  • explanation of causes and responses
  • three clips from popular movies expressing that emotion
  • typical verbal expressions
  • cartoon mini-story (currently available for negative emotions only)
  • comparisons with similar emotions (currently available for negative emotions only)
  • references to scientific sources for further reading

Emotion Typology Initiative
The typology is an initiative of the Delft Institute of Positive Design (Delft University of Technology). Its development took seven years (2015–2022). Several scientists have contributed to it over the years, including researchers from Delft University of Technology, Twente University, and the University of Amsterdam. Apart from the lead researchers, many other experts and designers have also contributed. For details, see the colophon.

Share your insights
We would love to hear from you and learn from your experiences. Your questions and feedback will help us improve future versions of the typology. You can get in touch with us via emotiontypology@gmail.com.

Frequently asked questions

The typology is the result of a literature study of hundreds of researchers in psychology, social sciences, and the humanities. We have included only those emotions that other researchers have studied. Therefore, the fact that we included more negative emotions in the typology simply means that we were able to find more information about certain negative emotions than we did about positive ones. It does not imply that people experience negative emotions more often or more prominently than positive emotions.

So why did we find more information on negative emotions? Although positive emotions have received an increasing amount of attention in recent decades, historically, psychological studies have focused much more on negative emotions. If you study certain emotions more, you are bound to find more differences among them. Nevertheless, it may also be the case that people experience more differences between negative emotions than they do between positive ones. People feel negative emotions when something is wrong, and perhaps it is more important to make fine distinctions in how things are wrong rather than how things are right. However, the views on this matter differ, and this question is not something that we have investigated for the development of the typology.

You might have come here hoping to read up on love, happiness, outrage, or any other word that you definitely consider an emotion, only to find that it is not on the list! No worries – we will try to help you as much as we can. There are a few options if your emotion is not on the list.

Option 1: The emotion is included but under a different name. For example, ‘outrage’ is not on the list. However, ‘indignation’ is, which has ‘outrage’ listed as one of its similar words. You can find the similar words for an emotion just below its definition on the emotion’s page.

Option 2: The word does not refer to an emotion proper but to a broader and/or more complex phenomenon. A notable example is the word ‘love’. Some people consider it the epitome of an emotion. However, many emotion scholars beg to differ. Love is a multifaceted phenomenon, consisting of many different emotions (such as affection, lust, tenderness and jealousy – all included in the typology) and many types (loving someone is different from being in love with someone), all of which are more complex than a single emotion. The same goes for words such as ‘happiness’ and ‘upset’.

Option 3: The word sounds like an emotion but is, in fact, not (at least according to emotion scholars). There are many lists of ‘emotions’ online, but they include words that are related to emotions but are not emotions themselves, for example, ‘lazy’ (behavioural disposition), ‘relaxed’ (mood), or ‘sleepy’ (bodily state).