Judging emotions as good or bad: Individual differences and associations with psychological health

Emotion. 2023 Oct;23(7):1876-1890. doi: 10.1037/emo0001220. Epub 2023 Mar 13.


People differ in their initial emotional responses to events, and we are beginning to understand these responses and their pervasive implications for psychological health. However, people also differ in how they think about and react to their initial emotions (i.e., emotion judgments). In turn, how people judge their emotions-as predominantly positive or negative-may have crucial implications for psychological health. Across five MTurk and undergraduate samples collected between 2017 and 2022 (total N = 1,647), we investigated the nature of habitual emotion judgments (Aim 1) and their associations with psychological health (Aim 2). In Aim 1, we found four distinct habitual emotion judgments that differ according to the valence of the judgment (positive or negative) and the valence of the emotion being judged (positive or negative). Individual differences in habitual emotion judgments were moderately stable across time and were associated with, but not redundant with, conceptually related constructs (e.g., affect valuation, emotion preferences, stress mindsets, meta-emotions) and broader traits (i.e., extraversion, neuroticism, trait emotions). In Aim 2, positive judgments of positive emotions were uniquely associated with better psychological health and negative judgments of negative emotions were uniquely associated with worse psychological health concurrently and prospectively, above and beyond the other types of emotion judgments, and above and beyond conceptually related constructs and broader traits. This research gives insight into how people judge their emotions, how these judgments relate to other emotion-related constructs, and their implications for psychological health. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Emotions* / physiology
  • Humans
  • Individuality*
  • Judgment
  • Mental Health
  • Neuroticism