How people interpret events and challenges can be very significant for their happiness and mental health. Positive affect expresses enthusiasm, activity, alertness, control, commitment and seeing difficulties as challenges with a general disposition towards a positive outlook and a satisfactory perception and appraisal of potentially stressful events. Negative affect is associated with measures of neuroticism and negative emotionality as well as marked symptoms of stress. High negative affect is associated with subjective complaints, poor coping and anxiety whereas high positive affect is associated with sociability, control, helpful behaviour, feelings of duty, accuracy, care in decision-making and positive attitude over time and circumstance. High positive affect individuals experience a greater appreciation of life, more security and self-confidence, more social relations and assertiveness and greater satisfaction with their friends. They are often described as passionate, happy, energetic and alert. Two Swedish studies looked at the influence of positive and negative affect on people's physical and psychological health. The first study was of 122 high-school students, aged between 17 and 19 and the second study was of 208 office workers aged between 27 and 61. The participants were divided into four groups on the basis of personality tests: 'self-fulfilling' - those high in positive affect and low in negative affect, 'high affective' - those high in both positive and negative affect, 'low affective' - those low in positive and negative affect and 'self-destructive' - those low in positive affect and high in negative affect. The participants were also asked about their psychological and physical health. 'Self-fulfilling' individuals were found to have 'markedly better health profiles' than the other three groups.
Archer, Trevor ... [et al] - Influence of affective personality on cognition-mediated emotional processing: need for empowerment European Journal of Psychiatry 2007, 21(4), 248-262