Sadness lasts longer than other feelings

Posted on November 1, 2014

The researchers say differences in emotion duration have only been assessed for a small number of emotions, and any differences observed have not been clearly explained.

As such, the team wanted to look into this topic with more detail in order to account for differences in how long certain emotions last. They had 233 high school students recall recent emotional experiences and report their duration.

Out of 27 emotions in total, the researchers found that sadness was the longest-lasting emotion; shame, surprise, fear, disgust, boredom, being touched, irritation and relief, however, were the shortest-lasting emotions.

The findings indicate that emotions do not last as long when they arise from events that carry low importance to the individual. However, long-lasting emotions come from events with strong importance attached to them. For example, sadness is typically linked to events with great impact, such as death or injury, the researchers say. And Verduyn notes that some of these important implications may arise over time, causing the emotion to be strengthened.

Rumination is the central determinant of why some emotions last longer than others. Emotions associated with high levels of rumination will last longest. In other words, thinking about events and consequences repeatedly - which individuals tend to do more with situations linked to feelings of sadness as a way of coping or comprehending - causes the emotion to endure.

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Source material from Medical News Today

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