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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2001 Oct;81(4):684-96.

Can people feel happy and sad at the same time?

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Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University, USA.


The authors investigated whether people can feel happy and sad at the same time. J. A. Russell and J. M. Carroll's (1999) circumplex model holds that happiness and sadness are polar opposites and, thus, mutually exclusive. In contrast, the evaluative space model (J. T. Cacioppo & G. G. Berntson, 1994) proposes that positive and negative affect are separable and that mixed feelings of happiness and sadness can co-occur. The authors both replicated and extended past research by showing that whereas most participants surveyed in typical situations felt either happy or sad, many participants surveyed immediately after watching the film Life Is Beautiful, moving out of their dormitories, or graduating from college felt both happy and sad. Results suggest that although affective experience may typically be bipolar, the underlying processes, and occasionally the resulting experience of emotion, are better characterized as bivariate.

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