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Three studies are presented that examine the effects of stress on the relationship between positive and negative affective states. In the first study, recently bereaved and disabled older adults were compared to matched control groups without these recent stressors. Negative affect was inversely correlated with positive affect to a significantly greater extent for the highly stressed groups compared with controls. In a second study, older adults were exposed to a laboratory stressor, and their positive and negative affective reactions recorded. Immediately following a speech stressor task, the inverse correlation between positive and negative affect was significantly greater than in pre- and post-assessments of affects. The third study was an attempt to replicate and extend the findings from Study 2 with a mid-aged sample of women. The speech stressor had the same effects as in Study 2. A second stressor, which induced pain through immersion of an arm into cold water, had no effects on the correlation between affective states. Alternative explanations for these effects and the implications for cognitive interventions are discussed.