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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1985 May;48(5):1253-65.

Intensity and frequency: dimensions underlying positive and negative affect.


Research on emotions and several happiness scales suggest that positive and negative affect are strongly inversely correlated. However, work on subjective well-being indicates that over time, positive and negative affect are independent across persons. In order to reconcile this inconsistency, two dimensions are proposed for personal affective structure: the frequency of positive versus negative affect and the intensity of affect. Subjects in three studies completed daily and momentary reports on their moods. In support of the intensity dimension, the correlations between positive and negative intensity were strong and positive in all three studies. The intensities of specific emotions across persons were also highly correlated. Across the three studies the frequency and intensity of affect varied independently. Although average levels of positive and negative affect showed low correlations, this relation became strongly inverse when intensity was partialed out. Thus the intensity dimension helps explain the relative independence of positive and negative affect. In addition, emotional intensity is offered as a new personality dimension that manifests interesting characteristics.

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