On the independence of positive and negative affect within hour-to-hour experience

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This research investigates the hypothesis that the rates of positive and negative affect in a person's life are independent. Whereas prior research on this issue has relied upon people's recollections, a source of information subject to distortion, this research employs reports obtained from immediate experience. Members of an adolescent and an adult sample carried electronic pagers for 1 week and filled out reports on their immediate affective states upon receipt of signals sent to them at random times. The frequencies of positive and negative affective states for each person were then computed from this pool of time samples. The findings reveal strong internal consistency in each person's rates of positive and negative affect. However, congruent with the independence hypothesis, these frequency rates of positive and negative affect were not correlated with each other. The findings dispel the possibility that the results of prior research were affected by distortions of recollection, and they suggest that the occurrence of positive and negative affect in a person's life are independent, not only from week to week, but also from day to day and hour to hour.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-156
Number of pages12
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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