Is there such a thing as a “default” human emotion, and if so do we all have the same one, or is it based on the individual?


Is there such a thing as a “default” human emotion, and if so do we all have the same one, or is it based on the individual?

In: Biology

I worked with infants for many years and our emotions seem to be closely intertwined with our personalities. Each infant has a distinct disposition and personality. I would say it is a human’s goal to feel independent and happy, but that is not the default. Our emotions are highly based on chemicals our brain makes too. Sometimes, due to genetics or past trauma, the chemicals our brain makes won’t be in the right proportions, or some may seem to be missing. This gives us mental illnesses, which give different “default” emotions for each person.

Emotions are there to motivate you to do something. As a default emotion I would argue content is our default emotion but content isn’t an emotion so much as it is the lack of emotion. Plus most people are not content for long before either craving or boredom sets in.

So I’d maybe argue that boredom would be our default emotion.

A good way of picturing human emotion is like in the film Inside Out where you have Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust and Anger (except add on another 22 emotions like boredom, romance, sexual Desire). We each have all of these emotions but only the emotion that’s shouting the loudest at any one time is the one that’s in control.

In psychologically terms your emotions are your Id – they are your wants and desires and they want everything now, now, now. Then you have your Ego (which is very misunderstood by most people) which then controls your Id and keeps a tight automatic reign on your emotions (or in the case of a big ego a not so tight reign) and then you have your superego on top of all of that which is your more conscious control. An individual’s personality is how their Id, Ego and Superego are interacting.


You wont receive any accurate answers to this question. Itll be just a series of peoples random guesses based on no evidence at all.

When you refer to default emotion you would mean an emotion we feel when were not reacting to something, (primary emotions)
If we all had the same default emotion it would be awareness, not necessarily calmness but a clear concious able to perceive events and react to them.

Often people can be in a state of emotion, this is where it would be based on an individual. Its based on your personality and your personality is based on your experiences and environment.

It does not map to a particular emotion per se, but the closest I think we are going to get to answering this question based on what I know is referring to what neuroscience calls the Default Mode Network, which is a collection of brain regions/patterns of activity that are basically on whenever you ask subjects to just relax for a bit.

It overlaps with other things/activities, and a good overview can be found here: [](


Edit: to expand a bit, DMN last I checked was heavily involved in “self” related processing and in certain pathologies (functional disorders like IBS when I was doing research years ago) has been demonstrated to be over-expressed relative to healthy (and the opposite in other pathologies like Alzeheimer). So one’s experience of the DMN may be self-related processing. Who am I? Remember that time when…? What should I do next?