What does it mean to feel an emotion? The nature of emotional
experience has often been described in terms overall conscious experience, termed affect. However, even within affective research there are multiple contradicting theories about the nature and structure of affect. I propose that these contradictions are due to methodological issues in the empirical research examining these underlying dimensions. Furthermore, I propose that subjective emotional experience should be examined separately from overall affect. The current study attempts to address past methodological issues by focusing solely on emotional experiences, developing a comprehensive list of emotion items, and including a broad range of emotional experiences. In Study 1, participants were asked to recall an emotional experience and then report their experience of 76 different emotions during that experience. A factor analysis of the emotion ratings revealed a 5-factor categorical structure with categories of Joy, Anger, Sadness, Fear, and Shame/Jealousy. In Study 2, the 76 emotion words from Study 1 were compared in a semantic space derived from a large collection of text samples in an attempt to compare to the results of Study 1. A semantic space derived from a broad range of texts would reflect relationships of emotional concepts. Study 2 revealed a 1-factor structure, drastically different from the structure in Study 1. The implications from Study 2, however, are limited because of the limited range of literature that was used to create the semantic space in which the words were compared. Overall, the results from these studies suggest that subjective emotional experience should be treated as categorical.