The Relation Between Appraised Mismatch and the Duration of Negative Emotions: Evidence for Universality


Correspondence to: Philippe Verduyn, University of Leuven, Department of Psychology, Tiensestraat 102, 3000 Leuven, Belgium.



Emotions are processes that unfold over time. As a consequence, a better understanding of emotions can be reached only when their time-related characteristics can be assessed and interpreted adequately. A central aspect in this regard is the duration of emotional experience. Previous studies have shown that an emotional experience can last anywhere from a couple of seconds up to several hours or longer. In this article, we examine to what extent specific appraisals of the eliciting event may account for variability in emotion duration and to what degree appraisal–duration relations are universal or culture specific. Participants in 37 countries were asked to recollect emotional episodes of fear, anger, sadness, disgust, shame and guilt. Subsequently, they were asked to report the duration of these episodes and to answer a number of questions regarding their appraisal of the emotion-eliciting event. Multi-level analyses revealed that negative emotions last especially long when the eliciting event and its consequences are perceived to be incongruent with the individual's goals, values and self-ideal, creating a mismatch. These relations are largely universal, although evidence for some limited variability across countries is found as well. Copyright © 2013 European Association of Personality Psychology