The Need for Affect: Individual Differences in the Motivation to Approach or Avoid Emotions

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Abstract

The present research developed and tested a new individual-difference measure of the need for affect, which is the motivation to approach or avoid emotion-inducing situations. The first phase of the research developed the need for affect scale. The second phase revealed that the need for affect is related to a number of individual differences in cognitive processes (e.g., need for cognition, need for closure), emotional processes (e.g., affect intensity, repression-sensitization), behavioral inhibition and activation (e.g., sensation seeking), and aspects of personality (Big Five dimensions) in the expected directions, while not being redundant with them. The third phase of the research indicated that, compared to people low in the need for affect, people high in the need for affect are more likely to (a) possess extreme attitudes across a variety of issues, (b) choose to view emotional movies, and (c) become involved in an emotion-inducing event (the death of Princess Diana). Overall, the results indicate that the need for affect is an important construct in understanding emotion-related processes.

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