Can People Feel Happy and Sad at the Same Time?
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 81, No. 4, pp. 684-696
13 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2010 Last revised: 19 Feb 2011
Date Written: 2001
The authors investigated whether people can feel happy and sad at the same time. J. A. Russell and J. M. Carroll's (1999) circumplex model holds that happiness and sadness are polar opposites and, thus, mutually exclusive. In contrast, the evaluative space model (J. T. Cacioppo & G. G. Berntson, 1994) proposes that positive and negative affect are separable and that mixed feelings of happiness and sadness can co-occur. The authors both replicated and extended past research by showing that whereas most participants surveyed in typical situations felt either happy or sad, many participants surveyed immediately after watching the film Life Is Beautiful, moving out of their dormitories, or graduating from college felt both happy and sad. Results suggest that although affective experience may typically be bipolar, the underlying processes, and occasionally the resulting experience of emotion, are better characterized as bivariate.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation