Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 1–12 | Cite as

A premature consensus: are happiness and sadness truly opposite affects?

Original Paper


Within the debate on the structure of affect, a consensus began emerging in the last decade regarding the bipolarity of happiness–sadness. We argue that this consensus is premature. Focusing on the psychometrics of momentary affect, particularly happiness and sadness, and using a simulation study, a large-scale data set, and 2 experiments manipulating affect, we plot a map of affective space that departs from the consensus. One key departure is the finding that happiness and sadness are not bipolar opposites. Another is that nonuniform skewness plays a major role in studies of affective structure, but can be addressed with appropriate analyses.


Affect Bipolarity Circumplex Mood Structure 



This research was supported in part by a contract with the US Army Research Institute (MDA903-93-K-0008) and an AASERT grant from the US Department of Defense (DAAHO4-95-1-0213). The views, opinions, and findings contained in this paper are those of the authors and should not be construed as an official Department of the Army position, policy, or decision, unless so designated by other official documentation. We benefited greatly from helpful comments made by Doug Billings, Jim Cranford, Wendi Gardner, Nilly Mor, Suzanne Pineles, Ulrich Schimmack, David Watson, Iftah Yovel, and several anonymous reviewers on earlier drafts of this manuscript, and from editorial suggestions made by Klaus Scherer.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology Department, Barnard CollegeColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Psychology DepartmentNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

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