Difference Between Emotional and Rational

The main difference between emotional and rational is in the control of the thought process. Being rational involves reason and is usually based on facts or reason while being emotional involves emotions.

Rational and emotional are two words that are often used within similar contexts, yet with different connotations. Both of these adjectives are used to describe certain behavioural characteristics of human nature, which are prevalent in different situations and different scenarios. Each human being is unique in their own way. Be it nature, looks, habits, likes, or dislikes, each being is different from the others and so are the ways and means in which one reacts to certain situations. This certainly does not mean that human beings cannot help, or change or do anything about the way they react to a situation. In fact, the moment they realize that they need to shift from a particular attitude, they eventually will. Considering the emotional or rational behaviour of human beings, several people have been found to gradually shift from being emotional towards rational (or vice versa) according to their own will.

Key Areas Covered 

1. What does Emotional mean
     – Definition, Features 
2. What does Rational mean
     – Definition, Features 
3. Difference Between Emotional and Rational
     – Outline of Common Features
4. FAQ: Emotional and Rational
     – Frequently Asked Questions

Key Terms

Emotional, Rational

Difference Between Emotional and Rational - Comparison Summary

What does Emotional mean?

Being emotional is a common characteristic and is easily found in almost every human being. It is a certain way of reacting towards various situations, incidents, events, and everyday happenings. People who are emotional tend to be more expressive in their ways and the way in which they react to certain situations is more visibly seen and felt. Whatever feelings and emotions they feel will be made evident through their gestures, conversations as well as reactions.

Difference Between Emotional and Rational

When one is emotional, he or she is easily affected by their surroundings too. Considered to be reciprocally influential with temperament, mood, personality, motivation, and disposition, being emotional is primarily characterized by biological reactions, physiological expressions as well as various mental states. Emotions are extremely important to be emotional and are evoked by hormones and neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, oxytocins, noradrenaline, cortisol and GABA. When one is emotional, even the little things such as a piece of music can make them react. Emotional people are usually thought to be too vulnerable and can often be difficult to deal with.

What does Rational mean?

Being rational is a characteristic of human nature which has to do with reasoning and logic, being in control of one’s thought process and being reasonable when taking action. This is usually a good trait that keeps violence and inappropriate behaviour at bay, but sometimes, such people are often inexpressive and are accused of not having any feelings. 

Emotional vs Rational

The term rational often goes along with the words logical and sensible. All these signify deep thought and a reason behind every action. A rational decision usually means one that is not just reasoned, but also one that is most appropriate for reaching a goal or solving a problem.

Difference Between Emotional and Rational


Emotional means related to feelings and moods, involving personal experiences that can impact how a person thinks and behaves. On the other hand, rational means based on reason, logic, or sensible judgment, involving a systematic and reasoned approach to decision-making and problem-solving.

Thought Process

Being rational involves reason and is usually based on facts or reason while being emotional involves emotions.


Moreover, rational people tend to be somewhat reserved when reacting to a certain situation. But when emotional, people are usually very expressive.

FAQ: Emotional and Rational

Can a rational person be emotional?

Yes, a rational person can get emotional on certain occasions. For example, imagine a rational individual working on a team project where everyone agreed to specific deadlines and responsibilities. If a team member consistently fails to meet their commitments, the rational person may become angry.

What is an example of rational and emotional?

Choosing a car based on its fuel efficiency, safety ratings, and overall cost-effectiveness is an example of a rational decision-making process focused on practical factors. On the other hand, choosing a car because it holds sentimental value, such as being a model one has always dreamed of owning, or because a favorite celebrity owns a similar one, even if it’s not the most practical or cost-effective option, is an example of an emotional decision.

How can I be rational and not emotional?

To be more rational and less emotional, you should focus on facts, think about potential outcomes, and avoid impulsive reactions. You should also consider different viewpoints, and use logical reasoning. While doing all these, you should recognize and manage your emotions.


The main difference between emotional and rational is in the control of the thought process. Generally, these two have contradictory natures. But rational and emotional are two characteristics that can co-exist in a human being, and manifest themselves at different times under different circumstances.

Images Courtesy:
  1. A tearful goodbye via Wikicommons (Public Domain)
  2. Thinking man by Hell9 (CC BY 3.0)

About the Author: Hasa

Hasanthi is a seasoned content writer and editor with over 8 years of experience. Armed with a BA degree in English and a knack for digital marketing, she explores her passions for literature, history, culture, and food through her engaging and informative writing.

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