Affect as a Psychological Primitive

Adv Exp Soc Psychol. 2009;41:167-218. doi: 10.1016/S0065-2601(08)00404-8.


In this article, we discuss the hypothesis that affect is a fundamental, psychologically irreducible property of the human mind. We begin by presenting historical perspectives on the nature of affect. Next, we proceed with a more contemporary discussion of core affect as a basic property of the mind that is realized within a broadly distributed neuronal workspace. We then present the affective circumplex, a mathematical formalization for representing core affective states, and show that this model can be used to represent individual differences in core affective feelings that are linked to meaningful variation in emotional experience. Finally, we conclude by suggesting that core affect has psychological consequences that reach beyond the boundaries of emotion, to influence learning and consciousness.