Original Paper

Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 119-127

First online:

Which emotions last longest and why: The role of event importance and rumination

  • Philippe VerduynAffiliated withFaculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, KU Leuven Email author 
  • , Saskia LavrijsenAffiliated withFaculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, KU Leuven

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Some emotions last longer than others. However, duration differences have only been explored for a small number of emotions and the observed differences have not been explained. The aim of the present study is to provide a detailed picture of variability in duration between emotions and to account for this variability. Participants were asked to recollect recent emotional episodes, report their duration, and answer questions regarding appraisals and regulation strategies. Out of 27 emotions, sadness lasted the longest, whereas shame, surprise, fear, disgust, boredom, being touched, irritation, and relief were the shortest emotions. One appraisal dimension and one regulation strategy accounted for almost half of the variability in duration between emotions. In particular, compared to short emotions, persistent emotions are typically elicited by events of high importance, and are associated with high levels of rumination. This conclusion holds across emotion duration definitions, and remains valid when taking emotion recency and intensity into account.


Emotion dynamics Emotion duration Appraisals Emotion regulation Rumination