Thread: Positive affect vs negative affect

1. Positive affect vs negative affect

So, I'm in a Personality psychology class and the professor has been talking about intensity and the hedonic scale. He had us take this positives and negative affect test (PANAS), but it gives two scores, a positive affective score and a negative affective score. I'm supposed to explain the scores in a short paper but neither the book nor his lecture discussed interpreting this test or even duel levels of positive and negative affect and, in fact, he gave us emotional affect on a single scale, while the test offered double scoring and the capacity to score low or high on BOTH positive and negative affect would imply TWO scales.

Can anyone explain this to me. How does one interpret two different scales?

2. I vaguely remember going over this in a course of mine. So basically you have one scale that creates mutual exclusion between negative ("unhealthy") and positive ("healthy"), assuming that each is the opposite of the other. The second set of scales assumes that no affect is the opposite of affect, so logically you have one scale for zero-to-positive and one for zero-to-negative.

You could really just think about it in terms of a number line, with negative numbers and positive numbers. The first scale is like this:

-3 == -2 == -1 == 0 == 1 == 2 == 3

And the second scales are like this:

-3 == -2 == -1 == 0

0 == 1 == 2 == 3

However, the second set is more sophisticated, IMO, because it acknowledges that you could experience both positive and negative affect at once - which I believe is quite common especially in a bipolar manic phase, where people often report irritability in addition to more positive emotions such as euphoria (in fact, it's interesting that with hypomania - "low-grade" mania - people are often much happier and more productive than with pure mania, which can be quite unpleasant and counterproductive). So, for instance, the first scale would not be applicable for someone who is experiencing both guilt (negative) and determination (positive).

IMO, at a theoretical level, I'm not sure the positive and negative divisions are very realistic. Fear and guilt are positive/healthy feelings if you're in a dangerous situation or if you've done something that hurts someone else, respectively. I suppose they loosely correlate with "not feeling good", but that seems like a rather shoddy clinical definition.

3. It's not that complicated

4. UniqueMixture, if it's not that complicated than feel free to explain. I'm not interested in being right, I'm interested in learning the material with sufficient solidity that I can then use it in practice.

Skylights; Sorry, I should have been more specific, but it was late. None of these tests or scales cover any kind of pathology. All of this is studying behaviors, traits, and trends that are within in range of healthy psychological states.

So, the scale that the book and my professor covered kind of said that people live on a continuum between Positive affective and Negative affective as a way of life. That is, some people are more prone to noticing only positive emotions and are very optimistic, other people, who are still healthy, are prone to feel more negative emotions are are less optimistic. So, what we're discussing here is someone's emotional set point, at least, that's what I assume we're trying to test. The set point being the general stable average of what someone's emotions over time turn out to be. Is the person, on average over an extended period of time, more happy, more anxious, more pessimistic, more optimistic? This is where a double scale begins to confuse me. I thought we were judging a two qualities on a scale to judge a set point. Both the book and the lecture covered Hedonic balance on a scale of positive to negative and Affective style intensity on a scale from high to low. Then we were told to take two tests, one regarding affective style intensity and the other being the other being the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule which clearly is grading positive and negative emotions but which offers two scores, one being the score from 10-50 on Positive Affect and the other being the score from 10-50 on Negative Affect, and write a short paper about them and how they correlate to the text/lectures. I am not entirely clear on how they correlate because someone could, theoretically, receive a 50 on both negative affect and positive affect and be within healthy psychological standards but one cannot receive a mark on both ends of the hedonic scale unless one is suffering from a pathology such as bipolar. The PANAS, if it is relating to the hedonic scale is made so that everyone receives pathological results because the lowest score you could receive on either is a 10 (though that's unlikely since virtually everyone feels both annoyed and interested and happy and sad each week), thus putting everyone on both sides of the scale.

To which I can only say; "..huh?"

5. I was almost diagnosed with hypomania. I think I have many of the traits of it. Experiences are not good or bad, they're just intense or not intense. How you interpret them determines how you feel. Ie. What the "consequences" are. One can suffer a loss, but if they feel they can recover from it they will not feel negative (or at least as negative) about it. If you have very high stress experiences with nebulous or tumultuous interpretations as to the consequences you get mixed states. For example, if you discovered today that both your parents were killed and that you won the lottery. Or even moreso, if you inherited your parents fortune. In that case you may feel a mixture of survivor's guilt, thrill of excitement, but shame because of how you were getting the money and WHAT THAT MEANS. Most situations in life are mixed states because of opportunity costs especially in the long run. That is why we form very narrow rigid identities and tend to make very black and white statements about good/bad and what feels good and what does not. Reality is probabilistic, so some mixed states are very infrequent. Many factors have an effect on mood like diet, health, activity level, sleep patterns, neurotransmitter levels, and neurological development. The "average" person is usually a composite of these traits on both the positive and negative scales.

6. Thank you for expanding.

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