Negative affect refers to a pervasive negative mood, anxiety, depression or hostility. Other words used to describe this personality are gloom, irritability and worry. A person with a negative affect will express distress, discomfort and dissatisfaction in many situations. Health psychologists often refer to this as the “Disease Prone Personality.” NOTE: The “D” stands for “Distressed.”
The consequences of a negative affect (neuroticism) include:
- Higher health risk behaviors, like drug and alcohol abuse
- Higher disease incidence, including diabetes, arthritis, kidney and liver disease, stomach and gall bladder problems, ulcers, asthma, headaches and coronary artery disease.
Characteristics of the Disease Prone Personality
- Sometimes the Type D personality is confused with the Type A personality. However, it is possible to be a Type A without the negativeness and hostility associated with the Type D personality. It is more recent classification than Type A and Type B.
- The Disease Prone Personality is marked by psychiatric distress, along with anger, depressions, anger, hostility and anxiety.
- People with a Type D personality typically have higher cortisol levels due to higher levels of chronic, daily stress. They also usually have increased heart rates.
- When faced with a medical issue, such as a surgical procedure, people with Type D personalities typically have poorer outcomes and problematic recoveries.
- In addition, Type D personalities typically have higher reports of physical symptoms. As reported in a study by S. Cohen in 2003, people with a negative affect reported more health complaints, and were more likely to use health services, although their symptoms were no worse than people low in negative affectivity. They are more likely to show psychological distress, physical symptoms and illness behavior, even when not sick.
Measuring Affect – The PANAS Questionnaire
PANAS is short for Positive and Negative Affect Schedule. PANAS is a 20-question, self-reporting quiz that measures mood on a 5-point Likert scale. The mean score for positive affect is 35.7 (SD = 6.2) and for negative affect is 19.5 (SD 6.0) (Watson & Clark, 1994). The quiz comes in an extended version, too (PANAS-X).
You can take the PANAS test online at Authentic Happiness.
Notes from my Health Psychology class.