Affect intensity as an individual difference characteristic: A review


Larsen, R. J., & Diener, E. (1987). Affect intensity as an individual difference characteristic: A review. Journal of Research in Personality, 21(1), 1-39.


Affect intensity is a stable individual difference characteristic defined in terms of the typical strength of an individual's responsiveness. Evidence is reviewed suggesting that the intensity of an individual's affective responsiveness generalizes across specific emotion categories, implying a general temperament dimension of emotional reactivity and variability. Two methods of assessing affect intensity are evaluated and found to exhibit desirable psychometric properties. Substantive research on the validity of the affect intensity construct is reviewed. Affect intensity is related to a variety of specific personality characteristics, has identifiable antecedents in childhood behavior, and relates to a broad range of cognitive, affective, and health-related consequences. An arousal regulation theory is proposed to account for individual differences in affective response intensity. Other plausible theories are mentioned, and directions for future research are discussed.

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