About 20 years ago, I was an emotion or affect researcher. I was interested in structural models of affect, which was a hot research topic in the 1980s (Russell, 1980; Watson & Tellegen, 1985; Diener & Iran-Nejad, 1986′ Shaver et al., 1987). In the 1990s, a consensus emerged that the structure of affect has a two-dimensional core, but a controversy remained about the basic dimensions that create the two-dimensional space. One model assumed that Positive Affect and Negative Affect are opposite ends of a single dimension (like hot and cold are opposite ends of a bipolar temperature dimension). The other model assumed that Positive Affect and Negative Affect are independent dimensions. This controversy was never resolved, probably because neither model is accurate (Schimmack & Grob, 2000).
When Seligman was pushing positive psychology as a new discipline in psychology, I was asked to write a chapter for a Handbook of Methods in Positive Psychology. This was a strange request because it is questionable whether Positive Psychology is really a distinct discipline and there are no distinct methods to study topics under the umbrella term positive psychology. Nevertheless, I obliged and wrote a chapter about the relationship between Positive Affect and Negative Affect that questions the assumption that positive emotions are a new and previously neglected topic and the assumption that Positive Affect can be studied separately from Negative Affect. The chapter basically summarized the literature on the relationship between PA and NA up to this point, including some mini meta-analysis that shed light on moderators of the relationship between PA and NA.
As with many handbooks that are expensive and not easily available as electronic documents, the chapter had very little impact on the literature. WebofScience shows only 25 citations. As the topic is still unresolved, I thought I make the chapter available as a free text in addition to the Google Book option that is a bit harder to navigate.
Here is a PDF version of the chapter.
- The correlation between PA and NA varies as a function of items, response formats, and other method factors.
- Pleasure and displeasure are not opposite ends of a single bipolar dimension
- Pleasure and displeasure are not independent.