Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 339–353 | Cite as

Everyday social interactions and intra-individual variability in affect: A systematic review and meta-analysis of ecological momentary assessment studies

  • Huiying Liu
  • Qian Wen Xie
  • Vivian W. Q. LouEmail author
Original Paper


Intra-individual variability in affect has been associated with aspects of individuals’ lives, such as everyday social interactions. Ecological momentary assessment (EMA) has been tailored to assess the dynamics of everyday events and feelings and in recent decades there has been a burgeoning of EMA research on the intra-individual links between social interactions and momentary affect in daily life. This systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted to identify within-person relationships between social interactions with positive affect (PA) and negative affect (NA). Both quantitative and qualitative features of social interaction (i.e., uniqueness of the partner, interpersonal perceptions of an interaction) predict within-person variance in PA and NA. The results of meta-analysis indicated small-sized associations between quantitative features of social interactions with PA and NA, and moderate-sized associations between qualitative features of social interactions with PA and NA, which were only somewhat moderated by methodological factors. We conclude that EMA is a promising method of investigating intra-individual variability in affect unfolding in everyday social environments and offer suggestions for substantiating the within-person perspective to both researchers and clinicians.


Everyday life Social interaction Momentary affect Intra-individual variability Psychological traits 



The authors wish to thank Dr. TSANG K.M. Sandra for her feedback on earlier versions of this manuscript.


This research was partially supported by the Seed Fund for Translational and Applied Research Project at the University of Hong Kong (Ref. 201611160014).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

11031_2018_9735_MOESM1_ESM.docx (47 kb)
Online Appendix A (DOCX 46 KB)
11031_2018_9735_MOESM2_ESM.docx (55 kb)
Online Appendix B (DOCX 54 KB)


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Huiying Liu
    • 1
  • Qian Wen Xie
    • 1
  • Vivian W. Q. Lou
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Social Work & Social AdministrationUniversity of Hong KongHong KongChina
  2. 2.Sau Po Center on AgeingThe University of Hong KongHong KongChina

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