Abstract We describe a program of research examining how the relationship between positive and negative affect varies both between individuals and within individuals over time. This Dynamic Model of Affect (DMA) proposes that under conditions that promote maximal information processing, positive and negative affective systems function relatively independently. In contrast, under conditions characterized by uncertainty, including pain and stress, the affects become strongly inversely related. Included in our consideration are potential individual differences in the ability to sustain affective differentiation during pain and other stressors and the implications of this model for perceptions of social relations and for interventions to improve well-being among the chronically ill.