One common way of studying human emotion is to obtain self-reports from participants to quantify their current feelings or average feelings over a longer period of time. These are referred to as measures of affect or measures of emotion. Even though some affect measures contain variations that allow assessment of basic predispositions to experience a certain emotion, tests for such stable traits are usually considered to be personality tests.
Measures of general affect
The Affective Slider is an empirically-validated digital scale for the self-assessment of affect composed of two slider controls that measure basic emotions in terms of pleasure and arousal, which constitute a bidimensional emotional space called core affect, that can be used to map more complex conscious emotional states.
One frequently used measure for general affective states is the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS). Participants completing the PANAS are asked to rate the extent to which they experienced each out of 20 emotions on a 5-point Likert Scale ranging from "very slightly" to "very much". The exact instructions may vary according to the purpose of the study: Participants may be asked how they feel right now or during longer periods of time (e.g. during the past year). Half of the presented emotion words concern negative affect (distressed, upset, guilty, ashamed, hostile, irritable, nervous, jittery, scared, afraid), the other half positive affect (interested, alert, attentive, excited, enthusiastic, inspired, proud, determined, strong, active). The PANAS has been regarded as a highly reliable measure for non-clinical populations. Independent validation studies indicate that the measure demonstrates excellent construct validity.
The expanded version of PANAS is called PANAS-X and includes 60 instead of 20 emotion words (items). The instructions and the answer format are identical to the short PANAS. However, PANAS-X not only measures general positive and negative affect, but also four basic negative emotions (fear, hostility, guilt, and sadness), three basic positive emotions (joviality, self-assurance, and attentiveness), and four more complex affective states (shyness, fatigue, serenity, and surprise). The internal consistency (Cronbach's coefficient alpha) for all of these scales can be regarded sufficient (with all α≥.74), that is people report that they experience all emotions that make up one of the scales with similar strength. The manual of the PANAS-X offers further extensive psychometric information.
The International Positive and Negative Affect Schedule Short Form (I-PANAS-SF) is a shortened version of the PANAS, intended to only contain cross-culturally well understandable emotion words. In contrast to an earlier ad-hoc created short forms of the PANAS, the I-PANAS-FX has been developed in a multi-study procedure including studies with participants from 16 countries. In the I-PANAS-SF, positive affect is measured using the words: active, alert, attentive, determined and inspired; negative affect is measured with the words: afraid, ashamed, hostile, nervous and upset. The I-PANAS-SF is intended for general use in research situations where either time or space is limited, and for international use with participants whose native language is not English.
The State-Trait Emotion Measure (STEM) is a more recently constructed measure that is explicitly framed to assess emotions at the workplace. The STEM assesses stable (trait) and current emotions (state) for five positive and five negative emotions: affection, anger, anxiety, attentiveness/energy, contentment, envy, guilt/shame, joy, pride, and sadness.
As opposed to the PANAS, people filling out the STEM are not only provided the emotion word, but also (1) a definition of that emotion, and (2) several example situation in which that emotion is usually felt from the work setting. Also, STEM assesses stable and current emotions at the same time, i.e. people are asked to mark the extent to which they felt each emotion "during your most recent day of work" and separately "How you generally feel when you are working". Another unique characteristic of the STEM is that it does not employ a standard Likert Scale that uses the same words to describe the points of the scale. Instead, several points of the scale are labelled with more precise emotion words related to the emotion in question, e.g. the scale for joy uses "amiable" as midpoint, "cheerful" to mark 8/10 and "happy" as positive extreme.
Measures of negative affect
The State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory (STAXI) has been developed as a 44-item questionnaire to assess stable (trait) and current (state) intensity of the expression of anger. Its current version is the STAXI-2 which has also been adapted for the use with children and adolescents.
The STAXI(-2) distinguishes between the three modes of anger expression: anger-out, anger-in and anger-control. Anger-out refers to a tendency to express anger through either verbal or physical behaviors. Anger-in or suppressed anger refers to the tendency to hold one's anger on the inside without any outlet. Anger-control refers to the tendency to engage in behaviors intended to reduce overt anger expression.
The Anger Rumination Scale (ARS) is a measure for the tendency to focus attention on angry moods, recall past anger experiences, and think about the causes and consequences of anger episodes. The questionnaire includes 19 items that assess four distinct aspects of anger: angry afterthoughts, thoughts of revenge, angry memories and understanding of causes. The items that contribute to each of these four scales have been shown to be answered in a highly similar way, i.e. they have high internal consistency.
The State-Trait Anger Scale (STAS) includes 10 items and initially constructed with two subscales: state anger (S-Anger), defined as an emotional state or condition that consists of subjective feelings of tension, annoyance, irritation, fury and rage; trait anger (T-Anger) defined in terms of individual differences in the frequency that S-Anger was experienced over time. The scores on both subscales were found to be unrelated to each other. While responses to all items of the S-Anger scale were found to be equally related to this same scale (high internal consistency), this was not true for the T-Anger scale. The T-Anger scale was therefore divided in two subscales: Angry Temperament – which describes the disposition to express anger – and Angry Reaction, which describes anger responses.
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