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Abstract

Positive and negative affect, measured by the Bradburn Affect Balance Scale, were studied in a longitudinal sample spanning from 1971 to 1994. The sample (N = 2,804) represented 4 generations of families. Linear trend analyses compared generations over time for positive and negative affect and also examined the possible influences of neuroticism and extraversion on initial levels of affect and patterns of change in affect. Negative affect decreased with age for all generations, although the rate was attenuated among the oldest adults. Higher neuroticism scores also attenuated the decrease in negative affect across time. For positive affect, the younger and middle-aged adults showed marked stability, but the older group evidenced a small decrease over time. Higher levels of extraversion were related to more stability in positive affect.
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Chapter
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Chapter
Publisher Summary The dominant paradigm in current personality psychology is a reinvigorated version of one of the oldest approaches, trait psychology. Personality traits are “dimensions of individual differences in tendencies to show consistent patterns of thoughts, feelings, and actions.” In this context, trait structure refers to the pattern of co-variation among individual traits, usually expressed as dimensions of personality identified in factor analyses. For decades, the field of personality psychology was characterized by competing systems of trait structure; more recently a consensus has developed that most traits can be understood in terms of the dimensions of the Five-Factor Model. The consensus on personality trait structure is not paralleled by consensus on the structure of affects. The chapter discusses a three-dimensional model, defined by pleasure, arousal, and dominance factors in which it is possible to classify such state-descriptive terms as mighty, fascinated, unperturbed, docile, insolent, aghast, uncaring, and bored. More common are two-dimensional systems with axes of pleasure and arousal or positive and negative affect. These two schemes are interpreted as rotational variants—positive affect is midway between pleasure and arousal, whereas negative affect lies between arousal and low pleasure.
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