Emotion and feeling

The emotion is defined as an organic neuroscience response creating biochemical reactions in the body altering the current physical state.

The feelings are mental associations and reactions to emotions as our personal experiences.

The difference between emotion and feeling is that emotions are biological reactions to stimuli, while feelings are mental reactions or perceptions to those same stimuli.

DefinitionBiological response to sensory stimuli.Psychological response to emotion.
Reaction typePhysics.Mental.
OriginExternal stimulus.Life experience and perception of reality.
Response levelInstinctive.Subconscious.
Duration of reactionShort.Prolonged

What is an emotion?

An emotion is a biological response, specifically neuronal in nature, that triggers a series of chemical reactions that alter the way we feel.

Emotions are the way in which our body responds to stimuli, whether they are tactile, auditory, visual, olfactory or gustatory. If a person smells smoke while sleeping, they probably think it is a problem in the kitchen or the start of a fire, so they will surely feel fear.

This emotion will generate a series of chain reactions commanded by the brain, which include adrenocorticotrope, a hormone responsible for increasing the production of the hormone cortisol, which in turn increases insulin levels in the blood as a way to generate energy for prepare the body for flight.

Examples of emotions

For behavioral and mental health specialists, these are the four basic emotions:


It is the expression before the stimuli that are considered pleasant. It generates a sensation of pleasure that has a limited duration.


It is the organic reaction to loss. It can generate crying.


It is the emotion that is generated in response to a threatening stimulus. May include increased heart rate, sweating, desire to run away, etc.


It is the organic response to set limits and identify stimuli or situations that are unpleasant. Anger can cause increased blood pressure and sweating, among other manifestations.

What is a feeling?

A feeling is a mental experience that arises from the interpretation of the state in which our body finds itself . These experiences appear as the brain processes emotions.

For many specialists, feelings are the evaluation we make of an emotion, therefore, a cognitive factor intervenes that is not present in emotions.

If a person feels an emotion such as fear, an associated feeling may be suffering, seeing that fear paralyzed them and prevented them from responding in a more timely manner.

Examples of feelings

Some of the most common feelings in humans are:


Love is a feeling that can be felt towards oneself, towards another person, towards others or towards a particular event. By feeling love, people feel connected in a positive way with the world, and their sense of well-being increases.

People in love are the best representation of the feeling of love, but there are also other manifestations, such as maternal love or friendship.


It refers to the feeling of fullness or satisfaction, therefore, it is a feeling associated with well-being.

Personal or professional achievements are generally a reason for happiness.


It is a negative feeling characterized by the perception of displeasure towards someone or something. In the most extreme cases, hatred is a feeling that can be expressed collectively.

Physical attacks, harassment or violence can be some expressions of hatred.


The feeling of loss or grief involves the emotional pain of physical or symbolic separation from someone or something.

The death of a loved one can create a feeling of loss.

See also Difference between happiness and joy.

Difference between emotions and feelings

Although they are often taken for similar concepts, we have seen that they are two very different forms of information processing:

  • Emotions are organic reactions, while feelings are mental reactions.
  • Emotions arise when trying to interpret external stimuli. Feelings arise when trying to interpret emotions.
  • Emotions have a short duration; meanwhile, feelings last longer.
  • Emotions are generated in the absence of feelings, while feelings require an emotion to process the information.
  • Emotions depend on sensory interpretation (use of the five senses). Emotions depend on previous experiences and the way the individual interprets reality.

See also Difference between psychology and psychiatry .

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