Individual differences in core affect variability and their relationship to personality and adjustment

Department of Psychology, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia, United States
Emotion (Impact Factor: 3.88). 06/2007; 7(2):262-74. DOI: 10.1037/1528-3542.7.2.262
Source: PubMed


How people's feelings change across time can be represented as trajectories in a core affect space defined by the dimensions of valence and activation. In this article, the authors analyzed individual differences in within-person affective variability defined as characteristics of core affect trajectories, introducing new ways to conceptualize affective variability. In 2 studies, participants provided multiple reports across time describing how they were feeling in terms of core affect. From these data, characteristics of participants' core affect trajectories were derived. Across both studies, core affect variability was negatively related to average valence, self-esteem, and agreeableness, and it was positively related to neuroticism and depression. Moreover, spin, a measure of how much people experienced qualitatively different feelings within the core affect space, was related more consistently to trait measures of adjustment and personality than other measures of within-person variability, including widely used measures of within-person single-dimension standard deviations.

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    • "A number of studies have examined the within-person standard deviation of affect over time, showing that greater affective variability in negative affect is related to poor psychological health [7], neuroticism [8-10] and depression [11,12]. Greater affective variability in positive affect has also been associated with neuroticism [9,13], depression [11], borderline symptomatology [3,14] and low self-esteem [15,16]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Previous research has shown that being affectively unstable is an indicator of several forms of psychological maladjustment. However, little is known about the mechanisms underlying affective instability. Our research aims to examine the possibility that being prone to extreme fluctuations in one's feelings is related to maladaptive emotion regulation. We investigated this hypothesis by relating affective instability, assessed in daily life using the experience sampling method, to self-reported emotion regulation strategies and to parasympathetically mediated heart rate variability (HRV), a physiological indicator of emotion regulation capacity. Results showed that HRV was negatively related to instability of positive affect (as measured by mean square successive differences), indicating that individuals with lower parasympathetic tone are emotionally less stable, particularly for positive affect.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2013 · PLoS ONE
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    • "It should be clear that pulse and spin provide information on core affect variability that is not contained by the WPV (see Kuppens et al., 2007). First, spin and pulse are able to assess affective variability in the 'total' naturalistic affective experience of the patient whereas the WPV has to be calculated twice and separately for the valence and the activation dimension. "
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    ABSTRACT: Differences in affective variability in eating disorders are examined using an ecological momentary assessment (EMA) protocol. It is hypothesized that restriction serves to pre-empt the activation of affect whereas bulimic behavior serves to cope with overwhelming affect once activated. Therefore, we expect anorexia nervosa (AN) patients of the restricting type (AN-RT) to have lower mean levels of affect and less affective variability than Bulimia Nervosa (BN) patients. Patients' successive affective states over time are represented as different positions in a two-dimensional space defined by the orthogonal dimensions of valence and activation. Affective variability is measured by the within person variance and the new concepts of pulse and spin. Results of this exploratory study suggest that the diagnostic groups have the same mean levels of affect but affect spins less in patients with AN-RT. Using an EMA protocol and measures like pulse and spin may reveal insights in eating disorders that remain hidden with more traditional assessment methods.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2013 · Eating behaviors
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    • "When all observations are present for an individual within a given day, T di = 3; when two observations were present, T di = 2; variability was coded as missing when fewer than two daily observations were available. Total daily affect dysregulation was computed by adding the squared daily standard deviation of standardized positive affect to the squared daily standard deviation of standardized negative affect and taking the square root, as shown in Equation 3 (Kuppens et al., 2007 "
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: We hypothesized that individuals who are unable to effectively regulate emotional reactivity, which we operationalized as variability in self-reported affect throughout the day, would use alcohol more frequently and would report higher levels of drinking to cope. Further, we hypothesized that affect variation would be a stronger predictor of alcohol use or drinking to cope than level of negative affect. Method: A total of 86 college-age students (53% female, 77% White) participated in an intensive longitudinal study for 28 days. Participants reported positive and negative affect thrice daily and reported alcohol use once daily. Participant coping motives were assessed at study initiation. Results: Affect variability predicted increased drinking frequency and higher levels of self-reported drinking to cope. Mean level of negative affect was not related to an increased probability of drinking, nor was it related to self-reported drinking to cope. Both individual differences in affect variation and intra-individual daily fluctuations in affect were associated with an increased likelihood of drinking. Conclusions: Our results imply that individuals with higher-than-average levels of affect variation are at risk for high levels of alcohol involvement and that people are more likely to drink on days characterized by higher-than-normal levels of fluctuation in affect. Future studies on self-medication should consider negative affect variability in addition to-or instead of-level of negative affect.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2013 · Journal of studies on alcohol and drugs
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