What Are The Basic Components Of Emotion? What Are Some Of The Most Powerful Emotions?

Emotions can be expressed both verbally and nonverbally through facial expressions, gestures, and movements. To better understand emotions, they are divided into basic components. Follow this article to learn more about what are the basic components of emotions and what are some of the most powerful emotions.

Throughout human evolution, emotions have helped us deal with anything that comes our way. Whether we had to deal with a huge loss like losing someone or we had to celebrate something as big as a new life being born, everything is connected through emotions. Happiness, sadness, love, hate, guilt, shame, excitement, curiosity, or disgust every emotion helps us in our daily lives. Emotions play a huge role in the cognitive and physical development of a person. Many people who have difficulty in expressing their emotions suffer from serious chronic or mental diseases like; ADHD and Bipolar disorders.

Emotions can be expressed in both ways; verbally and nonverbally through gestures, movements, and facial expressions. For example, if you are sitting next to a person who has a bad breath, the emotion of disgust will make its way to your face. You might not say it out loud but your facial expressions say a lot. Emotions also prepare your body for anything that is coming your way. Follow this article to explore more about the basic components of emotion and some of the most powerful emotions.

What is emotion?

Human beings are also known as emotional beings, we feel everything, whether it’s a big news or a small general news. We have emotional responses for everything. Emotions are known as the neurophysiological changes in your mental state that will associate you with feelings. According to some researchers, emotions are often entangled with personality, temperament, mood, or sometimes creativity.

Emotions play a huge role in all aspects of our lives. Adaptation, survival, learning, communication, social interaction, and morality. All of these aspects are linked with emotions and feelings, whether good or bad, everyone feels according to their conscience and moral development. Emotions are a part of our learning process, they are our unfiltered thoughts that are a response to the outward stimuli. Whatever news we get is first perceived in our cerebral cortex, from there it is transferred to our emotional system to figure out whether the news is good or bad.

The sensory perceptions will label the news as attractive or unattractive. When labeled the news is traveled through the associated areas of the cerebral cortex where the news is given mental reasoning, whether or not a person should react to the news. Finally, the news reaches your hippocampus where it is recorded with your accurate emotional response.

It is important to know that emotions and feelings are not linked together. Emotions are a recorded response that occur as our response towards a substance or stimuli. But feelings are bodily sensations, they are mental concepts regarding a certain image, a person, or a fact. Emotions can be short lived but some feelings are permanent.

What are the basic components of emotion?

To understand emotions better, researchers have divided emotions into three components. These components are associated with the physical or mental modification that a person might be experiencing. The three components are:

  • Subjective experience
  • Physiological response
  • Behavioral response

Subjective response:

Experts believe that emotions are universal and people from different backgrounds, ethnicity, and cultures can experience them. But researchers also believe that emotions can be highly subjective and no one can experience a pure form of any emotion. Having mixed emotions is a natural thing. For example, if you are feeling disgust at something or someone then, you may also feel anger or annoyance inside you. These mixed emotions can be felt simultaneously or one after the other.

Physiological response:

There is a possibility that you might feel physiological responses during an emotion like; sweaty palms. Racing heartbeat, high blood pressure, or headache. The sympathetic nervous system inside your body is responsible for your body’s flight or fight response. When you face a dangerous situation, your nervous system automatically prepares your body. It can also target your amygdala. Researchers have shown that fear can make significant changes to a person’s amygdala.

Behavioral response:

The last component is the most important one. We spent all day trying to interpret emotions from a person’s facial expressions. If we interpret them correctly then it means that our emotional intelligence is high. Expression and gestures play a huge role in emotions. Our ability to guess other’s emotions correctly can also help us a lot while reacting with our emotions. Also societal rules and regulations also play a huge role in a person’s behavioral response towards something.

What are some basic emotions that we all experience?

According to a psychologist, Paul Eckman there are six basic emotions experienced by all human beings. These emotions are universal and everyone experiences them based on their outward stimuli. The six basic emotions are:

  • Happiness
  • Sadness
  • Disgust
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Surprise


Out of all the emotions, happiness is the most strived for emotion universally. It is a pleasant emotion that comes from joy, excitement, or satisfaction. It is also known as the purest emotion in positive psychology. It can be expressed verbally or nonverbally through gestures, facial expressions, or through body language. It is one of the most basic emotions known to humans, it can be achieved even by thinking about something that brings you joy or thinking about someone you love.


Sadness is a type of emotion that people face from time to time. It is felt through disappointment, grief, or the feeling of hopelessness. Sadness can also be felt as a long term emotion which can cause depression. We often feel sad when we fail at doing a task or we lose something we love. But those are a part of short term sadness. Long term sadness may involve losing a loved one or ending an intimate relationship or friendship.


According to Eckman, disgust is a major part of the basic emotions. It is concluded as a reaction to something unpleasant. Something so horrendous that you cannot stand it, like rotten food, smell of a dead animal, or sewage. Disgust can be expressed through facial expressions or verbally. It is an emotion where you cannot stand even for one second.


Anger is one of the most powerful emotions. It is concluded when something you want doesn’t go according to your plan. It is also a feeling of frustration. You will feel agitated with that person or thing which is responsible for the failure. Anger can be expressed verbally and nonverbally through facial expressions, gestures, and body language. While many people think of anger as a negative emotion, Eckman concluded it as a source of motivation. According to him, anger can be considered as something good. It can motivate people to correct their mistakes.


According to Eckman, fear is one of the most important emotions for survival. Fear is embodied inside your sympathetic nervous system. When you feel afraid, your body immediately goes into flight or fight mode. Fear makes your mind more alert and your senses are heightened. It can be expressed verbally or nonverbally through facial expressions or body language. Eckman also stated that not every person will react to fear in the same way. Some people are more sensitive than others.


According to Eckman, surprise is a basic response from a person when they see or hear something unexpected. Surprise can be categorized as both positive and negative. You may hear sad news unexpectedly or you may hear good news unexpectedly. In both situations, your body language will change and you will be able to express your surprise through your facial expressions. Surprise can also trigger other emotions like happiness, sadness, anger, and fear.

What are some of the most powerful emotions?

Every emotion has its own tendency. It also depends on a person’s capability to feel an emotion. Some people are more sensitive than others, they will feel every emotion extremely. Yet there are some emotions that are powerful enough for every person. Whether they are positive or negative, everyone feels them to their core. Some of the most powerful emotions are:

  • Love
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Sadness
  • Sympathy


Love is considered as one of the most powerful emotions by psychology. It can make a person more flexible, it is one of the most adaptive emotions known to mankind. With the high level of dopamine inside a person’s brain, it can be felt more intensely than any other emotion. Love can alter a person’s way of living, behavior, and personality. It is the most profound emotion among all the emotions.


Anger is also one of the most powerful emotions known to humans. Anger can be interpreted as both negative and positive. It can even drive a person to a more righteous path or to the path of complete wrongdoings. How you show your anger completely depends on you. Some people can control their anger very well and some people not so much.


Fear can be a powerful emotion when it surfaces. It can initiate a person’s fight for survival to the point where they might hurt themselves. Fear can be short term and long term as well. According to research, fear leads to anger, anger leads to hatred, and hatred will lead to suffering. Fear can also resurface as a past stigma which can haunt you for the rest of your life.


Sadness comes when a person is facing a huge disappointment or when a person is in a state of hopelessness. Sadness can be both short term and long term as well. When a person loses a thing that might be close to them, they will surely feel sadness but soon when they get over that sadness then, it is a short term sadness. But when a person loses a person they love or they face an end to an intimate relationship then, they will face a long term sadness.


Sympathy is one of the most pure and powerful emotions. It is empowered by love and respect. Sympathy can be a powerful motive for love and fascination. It comes from the bottom of your heart. A person can not fake sympathy unlike other emotions. Many people are able to fake some emotions like happiness, surprise, and sometimes anger but one cannot fake sympathy.

What are some of the major theories of emotion?

Emotion is often defined as a complex state that can influence your behavior, personality, and motivational factors. There are many psychologists who have given theories about emotion and how emotions change the physical and physiological dynamics of a person. Following are some of the major theories of emotion.

  • Evolutionary theory of emotion
  • James-Lange theory of emotion
  • The Cannon-Bard theory of emotion
  • Cognitive appraisal theory
  • Facial feedback theory of emotion

Evolutionary theory of emotion:

This theory was proposed by a naturalist, Charles Darwin. According to him, humans and animals have a need to reproduce and they need to evolve for survival. In this theory of emotion, Darwin states that emotions are adaptive and it is that way because humans need their emotions to be more flexible so they can adjust to their surroundings and avoid any danger that may come their way.

James-Lange theory of emotion:

This theory was proposed by a psychologist William James and physiologist Carl Lange. In this theory they stated that emotions are linked with physical responses. Whatever you might be feeling, your body will react accordingly. According to them, a person cannot hide their true emotions because of their body language. For example, if you are in a situation where you are feeling scared then, your heartbeat will rise and you will start to shake.

The Cannon-Bard theory of emotion:

Another well known theory of emotion is the Cannon-Bard theory. It is in link with the James-Lange theory of emotion. It was proposed by a physiologist Walter Cannon. According to him, the physical symptoms appear first. A person will respond physically first instead of emotionally. He stated that because your brain has this tendency to sense danger so it will alert your body first. Cannon stated that one does not cause the other but physical response may appear first in any situation.

Cognitive appraisal theory:

Cognitive appraisal theory was proposed by Richard Lazarus who is considered a pioneer in the study of emotions. According to him, an event or a situation works as a stimulus for the brain. After recording the stimulus the brain will give its emotional and physical response. He also stated that physical reactions are associated with the fight or flight response of the body.

Facial feedback theory of emotion:

This theory of emotion was proposed by Charles Darwin and William James. According to them, there are visible changes in the facial muscles when people express their emotions. Even if a person wishes to show a neutral expression they will have a tight jaw because of them controlling their emotions.

Why do we need emotions?

According to some of the psychology experts, emotions are necessary for survival and for social contact. Psychologists have described some of the points to explain why a person needs emotions. Following are some of the main points that they have raised:

  • Survival
  • To take action
  • To avoid danger
  • Make decisions
  • To understand


Humans have come a long way since evolution. They have reproductive needs and this fight for survival. Having emotions has always played a huge role in the survival of humans. Having emotions will help a person understand more about their surroundings and people living in them.

To take action:

Your emotions are connected with your sympathetic nervous system, through which your mind anticipates the situation and activates your body’s flight or fight response. The stimulus will send a message to your brain thus, it will react with an emotion according to the situation.

To avoid danger:

Your emotions can also help you avoid dangerous situations or situations that might not be good for you. Your brain will simultaneously work with your physical response to deliver the best emotional response. This way you can avoid dangerous situations. For example, when you are walking alone and you will see two streets ahead of you, one street is dark and you see no one there but the second street is more crowded. Naturally, your brain’s response will lead you towards the street that is more crowded so you don’t feel alone and scared.

Make decisions:

Your emotions can help you make better decisions. Whether you are driven by positive emotions or negative emotions, they will help you make your decisions. Positive emotions will influence your decisions in a good way and when you make decisions based on your negative emotions, you might regret them later because negative emotions are mostly short term.

To understand:

Your emotions will help you understand other people more. Having emotions like love, sympathy, and empathy will help you make friends. Positive emotions are also beneficial for you and your relationships. Having emotions will make you more adaptive and flexible. You will appreciate others more and vice versa.


Emotions play a huge role in our lives. It makes our survival easy, it makes us more flexible and adaptive. Having emotions will help you socialize more and it will make you see things from a different point of view. Emotions can also work as a motivational factor. Whether emotions are positive or negative, they have a huge impact on the way we behave and make our life choices. There are many different theories of emotions suggesting that every emotion is linked with physical response. No matter how much a person tries to act neutral, their body language will change once they go through a certain emotion.

People can express their emotion both verbally and nonverbally through gestures, facial expressions, and body language. Many researchers suggest that when a person is going through an emotion there are visible changes in the facial muscles. Emotions are important for our survival, they help our brain activate the body’s flight or fight response, which can help a person get out of unwanted situations.