Age-related differences and change in positive and negative affect over 23 years

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2001 Jan;80(1):136-51.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • California
  • Extraversion, Psychological*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intergenerational Relations*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurotic Disorders / psychology*
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Sex Factors