Primary emotions: What is felt first
Primary emotions are those that we feel first, as a first response to a situation. Thus, if we are threatened, we may feel fear. When we hear of a death, we may feel sadness. They are unthinking, instinctive responses that we have. We will typically see these in animals also, which confirms our suspicion that they have an evolutionary basis.
The problem sometimes with primary emotions is that they disappear as fast as they appear. Their replacement by secondary emotions complicates the situation, making it difficult to understand what is really going on.
Secondary emotions: What is felt next
Secondary emotions appear after primary emotions. They may be caused directly by them, for example where the fear of a threat turns to anger that fuels the body for a fight reaction. They may also come from more complex chains of thinking.