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Feeling vs. Emotion: What's the Difference?

By Janet White || Published on December 25, 2023
Feelings are personal experiences of emotions, subjective and influenced by individual perception, while emotions are complex psychological states involving physiological responses and behavioral changes.

Key Differences

Feelings are subjective experiences and personal interpretations of emotions, often nuanced and shaped by an individual's personal experiences and beliefs. Emotions, in contrast, are more universal psychological states or reactions to stimuli, often shared across cultures and exhibiting similar physiological responses.
Feelings are often longer-lasting and can be influenced by thoughts and memories, reflecting a personal understanding of an emotional state. Emotions are typically more immediate, intense, and can be clearly identified as specific reactions such as joy, anger, fear, or surprise.
In the context of awareness, feelings are the conscious experience or awareness of emotions, making them more reflective and processed. Emotions are more primal and can occur without conscious processing, often triggering physical responses like heart rate changes or adrenaline rushes.
Feelings are often less about the immediate reaction and more about the personal interpretation and meaning assigned to those emotional experiences. Emotions are the raw, unfiltered states that can lead to various feelings based on how individuals process and understand them.
Feelings can change over time as individuals' perceptions and interpretations evolve, often being less tied to the immediate context. Emotions are more consistent in their immediate expression but can vary in intensity and duration depending on the situation.

Comparison Chart


Subjective, personal experience
Universal, psychological state


Often longer-lasting
Immediate and intense


Influenced by thoughts, memories
Triggered by specific stimuli

Consciousness Level

More reflective and conscious
Can be unconscious or primal


Can evolve over time
Consistent in immediate response

Feeling and Emotion Definitions


A subjective emotional experience or reaction.
I have a feeling of contentment sitting here.


Affective state of consciousness.
Emotion overcame him during the reunion.


An intuitive understanding or impression.
I have a feeling he's not telling the truth.


A complex psychological state involving physiological arousal.
His sudden emotion of fear was palpable.


A physical sensation distinct from emotion.
I'm feeling cold in this room.


A mental state that arises spontaneously.
Her emotion was evident when she spoke about her home.


A sensitivity or empathetic understanding.
She has deep feelings for animal welfare.


A response to external stimuli causing joy, sorrow, fear, etc.
She felt a strong emotion of joy at the news.


An attitude or sentiment toward something.
My feelings toward the issue have changed.


An instinctive or intuitive feeling as distinguished from reasoning.
He made the decision more on emotion than logic.


The sense of touch
Lost feeling in a toe.


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.


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


How do feelings differ from emotions?

Feelings are personal experiences and interpretations of emotions, which are more universal and observable.

How many basic emotions are there?

There are commonly believed to be six basic emotions: happiness, sadness, fear, disgust, anger, and surprise.

Can feelings be controlled?

Feelings can be managed but not completely controlled, as they are influenced by personal interpretations and experiences.

Are emotions always conscious?

Not always. Emotions can occur subconsciously and may not always be immediately recognized.

Are emotions universal?

Basic emotions are considered universal across cultures, but their expression and interpretation can vary.

What is an emotion?

An emotion is a biological and psychological state associated with feelings, thoughts, and behavioral responses.

What is a feeling?

A feeling is a subjective experience of emotions, often more complex and influenced by personal interpretation and context.

Can the same event trigger different feelings in different people?

Yes, different individuals can experience different feelings in response to the same event due to their unique perspectives and experiences.

How do children learn about emotions and feelings?

Children learn about emotions and feelings through social interactions, observation, and parental guidance.

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions and those of others.

Can animals experience emotions?

Yes, many animals exhibit signs of basic emotions like fear, joy, and anger.

How do feelings relate to mental health?

Persistent negative feelings can be indicators of mental health issues and affect overall well-being.

Can people have conflicting feelings?

Yes, it's possible to have conflicting feelings about a situation, reflecting the complexity of personal experiences.

Is anger a feeling or an emotion?

Anger is an emotion, and the personal experience of anger is a feeling.

How do feelings impact decision-making?

Feelings can significantly influence decision-making by affecting our judgments and perceptions.

Can emotions be measured?

Emotions can be measured indirectly through physiological responses, facial expressions, and self-reporting.

Is fear a feeling or an emotion?

Fear is an emotion, and the personal experience of fear is a feeling.

Is love a feeling or an emotion?

Love can be considered both an emotion and a feeling, as it involves a complex mix of emotional states and personal interpretations.

Are emotions linked to physical health?

Yes, emotions can have significant impacts on physical health, influencing factors like stress levels and heart health.

How do culture and upbringing affect feelings?

Culture and upbringing play a crucial role in shaping how individuals express and interpret their feelings and emotions.
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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