Susceptibility to Affect: A Comparison of Three Personality Taxonomies



This study had three major goals: to clarify the relationships between Eysenck’s, Gray’s, and Cloninger’s personality taxonomies, to show that traits from these taxonomies predict differential sensitivities to emotional states, and to explore the relationship between sensitivity to an emotional state and how much that state is actually experienced. A factor analysis of traits from Eysenck’s, Gray’s, and Cloninger’s personality taxonomies resulted in three factors that were named reward sensitivity, impulsivity-thrill seeking, and punishment sensitivity. These factors predicted a global measure of affect, emotional reactions to a laboratory mood induction, and self-reported affect in daily life. Generally, reward sensitivity predicted positive, but not negative emotions, whereas punishment sensitivity predicted negative, but not positive emotions. Impulsivity-thrill seeking predicted few emotions in either context. Coherence among the relationships found across methodological contexts suggests that the traits that predict emotion susceptibilities in the laboratory similarly predict emotional experience in ongoing daily life.