Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

2013 Edition
| Editors: Marc D. Gellman, J. Rick Turner

Negative Affect

  • Deborah M. StringerEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1005-9_606



Negative affect is a broad concept that can be summarized as feelings of emotional distress (Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988); more specifically, it is a construct that is defined by the common variance between anxiety, sadness, fear, anger, guilt and shame, irritability, and other unpleasant emotions. A variety of converging evidence suggests that negative affect is largely statistically independent from positive affect (e.g., Watson, 1988), but it is also clear that there exists a dimension called pleasantness-unpleasantness that has relations to both negative and positive mood terms (e.g., happiness and sadness). Some workers (e.g., Russell & Carroll, 1999) take the existence of the bipolar pleasantness-unpleasantness factor as evidence that negative affect and positive affect form a single dimension.

Negative affect and the dispositional tendency toward negative affect (called neuroticism, negative affectivity, or negative...

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References and Readings

  1. Russell, J. A., & Carroll, J. M. (1999). On the bipolarity of positive and negative affect. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 3–30. doi:10.1037//0033-2909.125.1.3.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Watson, D. (1988). The vicissitudes of mood measurement: Effects of varying descriptors, time frames, and response formats on measures of positive and negative affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55, 128–141. doi:10.1037//0022-3514.55.1.128.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: The PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 1063–1070. doi:10.1037//0022-3514.54.6.1063.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA