What Are Social Emotions?

Love is one of the strongest social emotions. She is the glue for human bonds!
What are social emotions?

Social emotions are feelings that arise when you interact with other people. Shame is an example of this. It arises when a person bases their own worth on the judgment of other people. These types of feelings can affect interpersonal relationships and self-assessment in both positive and negative ways.

Each language has its own definitions for certain social emotions. For example, if we look at the German term “ Schadenfreude ”, we recognize the joy in the unhappiness of others. Similarly, the French language has an enriching expression: “ retrouvailles” . It describes the joy we normally feel when we meet someone we like but have not seen in a long time.

We experience a lot of sensations and feelings within a community. This is why researchers usually differentiate between individual and social emotions . The latter are transferrable, contagious, and enable the establishment of interpersonal bonds. But sometimes they also lead to problems and disagreements.

social emotions: two people talking to each other

What are social emotions?

The role of emotions in each of these scenarios is crucial. But many are not aware of this, as they attribute psychophysiological states and the behavior patterns triggered by them to their inner emotional world. However, many are related to social interaction. Work stress, the complexity of romantic and family relationships, the bonds with your friends … Humans are social beings and therefore social emotions are of great importance .

Studies from the University of Amsterdam and other research show that a person is defined by a number of basic emotions such as joy, fear, sadness, disgust and surprise. If we didn’t live in social groups, we might not be able to experience these emotions at all, because they result from sharing with others.

Surely a child growing up on a desert island would never develop many of these emotions. This is because people only acquire them in a social context, which can be positive or negative.

Envy and jealousy are social emotions

Although they are two different aspects, they often go hand in hand. Both jealousy and envy are two classic social emotions that are always related to other people.

The desire to have what another person has and the fear of losing someone’s affection are triggers of emotions that one would never experience alone.

The admiration

This dimension is like a matryoshka doll: there are many more inside. Admiration consists of affection, some surprise, attraction, and joy. These are emotions that we transfer to others because they are attractive and inspiring.

Compassion and solidarity

It is true that compassion could also be viewed as an individual emotion. After all, it is possible and even common to feel sorry for yourself. However, it takes on real meaning when it is experienced in relation to others.

Compassion and a sense of solidarity are two valuable social emotions. They have the effect of helping others and giving meaning to social aspects.

Love is a social emotion

Falling in love is one of the things that feeds and breathes life into social emotions. Love in all its forms (towards your partner, children, family or friends) is a basic psychological requirement that gives life strength, meaning and purpose. Few social emotions are as intense and positive as these.

A happy couple


This social emotion is mixed with fear because it makes it impossible for us to show ourselves for who we are. In fact, this fear is fueled by the prospect of being disliked or judged by others. This lack of self-acceptance, appreciation and tolerance only occurs in social scenarios and forms a feeling that clearly undermines a person’s identity and self-esteem.

Feelings of guilt and remorse are social emotions

Finally, the two most common social emotions are missing. Feeling bad about hurting someone with your behavior, words, or attitudes is a recurring theme.

Recognizing and resenting unfairness will help you learn from your behavior and make you become a better person.

The purpose of all these feelings, inner experiences and sensations forms a unique transcendent psychological fabric that only grows in a social group. Understanding these, knowing what their purpose is, and being in control will make it easier for you to coexist with others and increase your wellbeing.

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