When bad moods may not be so bad: Valuing negative affect is associated with weakened affect-health links

Emotion. 2016 Apr;16(3):387-401. doi: 10.1037/emo0000132. Epub 2015 Nov 16.


Bad moods are considered "bad" not only because they may be aversive experiences in and of themselves, but also because they are associated with poorer psychosocial functioning and health. We propose that people differ in their negative affect valuation (NAV; the extent to which negative affective states are valued as pleasant, useful/helpful, appropriate, and meaningful experiences) and that affect-health links are moderated by NAV. These predictions were tested in a life span sample of 365 participants ranging from 14-88 years of age using reports of momentary negative affect and physical well-being (via experience sampling) and assessments of NAV and psychosocial and physical functioning (via computer-assisted personal interviews and behavioral measures of hand grip strength). Our study demonstrated that the more individuals valued negative affect, the less pronounced (and sometimes even nonexistent) were the associations between everyday experiences of negative affect and a variety of indicators of poorer psychosocial functioning (i.e., emotional health problems, social integration) and physical health (i.e., number of health conditions, health complaints, hand grip strength, momentary physical well-being). Exploratory analyses revealed that valuing positive affect was not associated with the analogous moderating effects as NAV. These findings suggest that it may be particularly important to consider NAV in models of affect-health links.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude*
  • Female
  • Hand Strength
  • Health*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Mental Healing / psychology*
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Young Adult