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Affective state; Emotion; Feeling; Feeling state; Mood


Affect is the collective term for describing feeling states like emotions and moods. Affective states may vary in several ways, including their duration, intensity, specificity, pleasantness, and level of arousal, and they have an important role to play in regulating cognition, behavior, and social interactions.


Affect is the experiential state of feeling. In everyday language, terms like affect, emotion, and mood are often used interchangeably. Affect is the superordinate category; emotions and moods are states belonging to this category. Emotions and moods are mainly distinguished by their duration, and by whether they are directed at a specific cause. Emotions are fairly fleeting and intense experiences that are elicited in response to specific external stimuli (i.e., objects or events), and may arise relatively automatically, or following a cognitive appraisal of a stimulus (e.g., How does the...

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References and Readings

  • Batson, C. D., Shaw, L. L., & Oleson, K. C. (1992). Differentiating affect, mood, and emotion. In M. S. Clarke (Ed.), Emotion (pp. 294–326). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

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  • Mauss, I. B., & Robinson, M. D. (2009). Measures of emotion: A review. Cognition and Emotion, 23, 209–237.

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  • Russell, J. A. (1980). A circumplex model of affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39, 1161–1178.

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Correspondence to Karen Niven .

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© 2013 Springer Science+Business Media, New York

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Niven, K. (2013). Affect. In: Gellman, M.D., Turner, J.R. (eds) Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine. Springer, New York, NY.

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