broad class of mental states that humans and other animals experience as positive, enjoyable, or worth seeking

Pleasure is an emotion. It is the opposite of pain. Humans and many other mammals feel pleasure.[1] People feel pleasure when they do something that is fun or that feels good.

"The Edison Phonograph" (1905), a postcard that shows pleasure while listening to music.

Pleasure in neuroscience


Pleasure is studied in neuroscience.[2] Neuroscientists have mapped pleasure "hotspots" in the brain.[2] Pleasure is important for a person's mental health and well-being.[2] The loss of pleasure is common in people with mental illnesses like depression, schizophrenia, and addiction.[2]

Pleasure in psychology


Pleasure is studied in positive psychology.[3] How much pleasure someone feels changes from person to person. Pleasure depends how special something is. There is no rule that says what pleasure is for every person. [3]

Sigmund Freud wrote about the "pleasure principle" in the 1920 essay Beyond the Pleasure Principle.[4] According to Freud, the pleasure principle is what drives people to do things that give them a feeling of immediate gratification.[4]

Pleasure in philosophy


The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus said that people feel the most pleasure possible when they have no suffering.[5]

Hedonism is another philosophy that is focused on pleasure. It says that pleasure is good.[6] In Hedonism, people focus on pleasure and avoid pain.

Utilitarianism is a philosophy that focuses on pleasure. It says that morality requires that people do what has the most utility for the most people.[7]



  1. "Videos of Pleasure-elicited Reactions". Archived from the original on 2018-01-25. Retrieved 2020-12-30.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Kringelbach, Morten L.; Berridge, Kent C. (2010). Pleasures of the Brain. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9781444357929.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Lopez, Shane J. (2011). The Encyclopedia of Positive Psychology. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9781444357929.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Hothersall, D. 2004. "History of Psychology", 4th ed., Mcgraw-Hill:NY p. 290
  5. The Forty Principal Doctrines Archived 2016-02-12 at the Wayback Machine, Number III.
  6. Hedonism, 2004-04-20 Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  7. Bentham, Jeremy (1776). "A Fragment on Government". Retrieved 31 January 2013.