Anger, Happiness, and Sadness: Associations with Depressive Symptoms in Late Adolescence

This study used self-report and observational methods to examine associations between depressive symptoms and patterns of emotional experience and expression during late adolescence. Fiftyone male and 49 female first and second year college students completed questionnaires on emotion experience and were videotaped while completing a frustrating task with a friend. Emotion expressions were coded from videotapes. Findings revealed associations between depressive symptoms and reporting high anger experience in the past month but displaying low anger with a friend, reporting low happiness but showing high happiness in the task, and reporting high sadness experience. Gender differences were found in depressive symptoms and in observed and reported happiness. Findings highlight the importance of anger and happiness, in addition to sadness, for depression.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This investigation was supported through a dissertation award from the Pennsylvania State University's College of the Liberal Arts. The author wishes to thank the following individuals for their help with the project: (1) the study participants; (2) Pamela Cole, Stephanie Shields, Jeffrey Parker, and Eva Lefkowitz for their thoughtful comments on the manuscript; (3) Amanda Pearl, Lucy Korfman, JoAnne Mullen, Laura Shipper, and Ryan Etzel, for their help with data collection and coding.

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Correspondence to Tara M. Chaplin.

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Received a PhD in child clinical psychology with a minor in developmental psychology from the Pennsylvania State University. Her research focuses on the role of emotion regulation in the development of psychopathology, particularly the development of depression in adolescence.

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Appendix

Complex Design Used in the Frustration Task

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Chaplin, T.M. Anger, Happiness, and Sadness: Associations with Depressive Symptoms in Late Adolescence. J Youth Adolescence 35, 977–986 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-006-9033-x

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KEY WORDS:

  • emotion
  • affect
  • anger
  • happiness
  • depressive symptoms
  • gender
  • late adolescence
  • adolescence