Study: Humans Have Only 4 Feelings

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I like to consider myself a person with a high emotional intelligence capable of experiencing as many feelings as there are colors of the wind. Sometimes even all at once, or at least in rapid succession.

But a new study out of Glasgow is set on challenging my rainbow of emotions. A recent paper published in Current Biology speculates that humans express and recognize a much more limited emotional palette than the the commonly accepted six classic basic feelings (happy, surprised, afraid, disgusted, angry, and sad).

Researchers studied computer-generated facial animations and found that, at least in its early stages, fear looks identical to surprise — raised eyebrows. Likewise, anger and disgust shared the same initial expression. Based on those findings, our emotional range has been whittled down to four basic emotions: happy, sad, afraid/surprised, and angry/disgusted.

While the research indicates that these basic emotions are simply the building blocks of other, more complex ones, I remain doubtful, considering I experienced at least twenty different simple feelings while watching the Budweiser Super Bowl commercial with the puppy and the horse.