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Emotion vs. Sentiment: What's the Difference?

By Janet White || Published on December 23, 2023
Emotion is a complex psychological state involving feelings, physiological changes, and behavior, while sentiment is a general feeling, attitude, or opinion about something.

Key Differences

Emotions are immediate, often intense responses to stimuli, encompassing physiological arousal, expressive behaviors, and conscious experiences. Sentiments, however, are more generalized attitudes or feelings toward a situation, person, or object, often less intense and more enduring.
Emotions can be primary (like joy, fear, or anger) and are universally experienced, reflecting a direct personal response. Sentiments are often shaped by culture and personal beliefs, reflecting a cultivated or learned attitude, like patriotism or nostalgia.
Emotions are typically transient, varying in intensity and often triggered by specific events or interactions. Sentiments can persist over a longer period, forming an underlying attitude or disposition toward something, like an ongoing sentiment of admiration for someone.
In psychology, emotions are studied as part of individual behavior and mental health, focusing on their role in human experience and interactions. Sentiments, in contrast, are often examined in social and cultural contexts, reflecting collective attitudes or societal trends.
Emotions can lead to physical expressions, such as smiling or crying, and are fundamental in decision-making and relationships. Sentiments, while they can influence behavior and choices, are more about one's general outlook or opinion, like a sentimental attachment to a childhood home.

Comparison Chart


Psychological state with feelings, physiological changes, and behavior
General feeling, attitude, or opinion


Often intense and immediate
Generally less intense, more enduring


Typically transient, varies in intensity
Longer-lasting, forms an underlying attitude

Study in Psychology

Focus on individual behavior and mental health
Examined in social and cultural contexts


Leads to physical expressions, impacts decision-making
Influences general outlook or opinion

Emotion and Sentiment Definitions


Emotions are integral to human relationships and social interactions.
Empathy allows us to share and understand the emotions of others.


Sentiment can reflect a cultivated or learned attitude.
His sentiment of loyalty to his hometown remains strong.


Emotions can manifest in various forms, including happiness, sadness, anger, or surprise.
Feeling anger is a natural emotion in response to injustice.


Sentiment can influence one's outlook or opinion on broader issues.
Public sentiment is shifting in favor of renewable energy.


Emotion is a complex psychological state involving feelings and physiological changes.
Joy is an emotion that often leads to smiling and a sense of happiness.


Sentiments are often less intense and more enduring than emotions.
She holds a sentimental attachment to her grandmother's jewelry.


An emotion is a response to external stimuli or internal thoughts.
Fear is an emotion triggered by perceived danger or threat.


Sentiment is a general feeling or attitude toward something.
There is a growing sentiment of environmental concern in society.


Emotion often influences behavior and decision-making.
Love, a profound emotion, can inspire acts of kindness.


Sentiments often encapsulate collective attitudes or societal trends.
The sentiment against plastic pollution is gaining momentum.


A mental state that arises spontaneously rather than through conscious effort and is often accompanied by physiological changes; a feeling
The emotions of joy, sorrow, and anger.


A thought, view, or attitude, especially one based mainly on emotion instead of reason
An anti-American sentiment swept through the country.


Such mental states or the qualities that are associated with them, especially in contrast to reason
A decision based on emotion rather than logic.


(obsolete) movement; agitation. 18


A person's internal state of being and involuntary physiological response to an object or a situation, based on or tied to physical state and sensory data.


A reaction by a non-human organism with behavioral and physiological elements similar to a person's response.


A moving of the mind or soul; excitement of the feelings, whether pleasing or painful; disturbance or agitation of mind caused by a specific exciting cause and manifested by some sensible effect on the body.
How different the emotions between departure and return!
Some vague emotion of delight.


Any strong feeling


Can sentiments change over time?

Yes, sentiments can evolve with experiences and changing perspectives.

Are emotions always visible?

Not always; some emotions can be internal and not outwardly expressed.

What is an emotion?

An emotion is a complex psychological state involving feelings, physiological changes, and behaviors.

Do emotions affect physical health?

Yes, emotions can have significant impacts on physical health and wellbeing.

Are sentiments important in marketing?

Yes, understanding consumer sentiments is crucial in marketing strategies.

What is a sentiment?

A sentiment is a general feeling, attitude, or opinion about something.

Can animals experience emotions?

Many animals are believed to experience basic emotions like fear and joy.

Is sentiment analysis used in social media?

Yes, sentiment analysis is widely used to gauge public opinion on social media.

Can a sentiment be positive or negative?

Yes, sentiments can be positive, negative, or neutral.

Do emotions play a role in memory?

Yes, emotionally charged events are often more vividly remembered.

Is fear an emotion or sentiment?

Fear is an emotion, a response to perceived danger.

How are emotions studied in psychology?

Emotions are studied in terms of their physiological, behavioral, and cognitive aspects.

Are emotions the same as moods?

No, emotions are usually more intense and short-lived than moods.

Are sentiments important in politics?

Yes, political campaigns often aim to appeal to or shape public sentiments.

Can sentiment analysis predict market trends?

It can provide insights, but it's one of many tools used to predict market trends.

Can sentiments be inherited?

Not directly, but cultural attitudes and beliefs can be passed down.

Can emotions influence decision-making?

Yes, emotions can significantly influence one's decisions and judgments.

How do businesses use sentiment analysis?

Businesses use sentiment analysis to understand customer opinions and improve services.

Are emotions universal?

Basic emotions like happiness, sadness, and anger are considered universal.

Can one control their sentiments?

Sentiments can be influenced by awareness and reflection, but not completely controlled.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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