On the bipolarity of positive and negative affect

Psychol Bull. 1999 Jan;125(1):3-30. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.125.1.3.


Is positive affect (PA) the bipolar opposite of, or is it independent of, negative affect (NA)? Previous analyses of this vexing question have generally labored under the false assumption that bipolarity predicts an invariant latent correlation between PA and NA. The predicted correlation varies with time frame, response format, and items selected to define PA and NA. The observed correlation also varies with errors inherent in measurement. When the actual predictions of a bipolar model are considered and error is taken into account, there is little evidence for independence of what were traditionally thought opposites. Bipolarity provides a parsimonious fit to existing data.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Affect*
  • Bipolar Disorder / diagnosis
  • Bipolar Disorder / psychology*
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychometrics