What methods can be used to accurately measure levels of emotion?

Measuring emotions has been a challenging task for researchers and psychologists for centuries. Emotions are complex and subjective experiences that are unique to each individual, making it difficult to quantify and measure them accurately. However, with the advancements in technology and the development of various methods, measuring emotions has become more precise and reliable. In this essay, we will explore the different methods that can be used to accurately measure levels of emotion, their advantages and limitations, and how they contribute to our understanding of human emotions.

Organizational psychology scholars studying emotion typically use self-report responses to verbal questions to assess participants’ current feeling or basic predisposition. These are referred to as Measures of Affect or Measures of Emotion. A frequently used measure is the Positive Affect Negative Affect Scale (PANAS).


Measures of General Affect


The expanded version of PANAS is called PANAS-X and includes 60 items. This questionnaire not only measures the two original higher order scales (PA – Positive Affect and NA – Negative Affect), but also 11 specific affects: Fear, Sadness, Guilt, Hostility, Shyness, Fatigue, Surprise, Joviality, Self-Assurance, Attentiveness, and Serenity. The internal consistency reliabilities (Cronbach’s coefficient alpha) for the two higher order scales is above 0.83, however the internal reliability of specific affects is lower: Fear – median a = .87, Sadness – median a = .87, Guilt – median a = .88, Hostility – median a = .85, Shyness – median a = .83 Fatigue -median a = .88, Self-Assurance – median a = .83.



STEM = the State-Trait Emotion Measure is one of the newly constructed scales, consisting of five positive and five negative emotions including anger, anxiety, attentiveness/energy, contentment, envy, guilt/shame, joy, love, pride and sadness.


Measures of Negative Affect


STAXI – State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory is a 44-item questionnaire and is extensively utilized in research on anger. It distinguishes between the three modes of anger expression: anger-out, anger-in and anger-control. Anger-out refers to a tendency to express anger through either verbal or physical behaviors. Anger-in or suppressed anger refers to the tendency to hold one’s anger on the inside without any outlet. Anger-control refers to the tendency to engage in behaviors intended to reduce overt anger expression.



ARS – Anger Rumination Scale is the example of measuring a specific emotion, and more correctly the tendency to focus attention on angry moods, recall past anger experiences, and think about the causes and consequences of anger episodes. The questionnaire includes 19 items, and has four factor structure (factors named “angry afterthoughts”, “thoughts of revenge”, “angry memories” and “understanding of causes”). The reliability analysis yielded an internal consistency coefficient α=0.93



BDHI – Buss-Durkee Hostility Inventory is a 75-items questionnaire and was developed to assess 8 subscales: Assault – physical violence against others; Indirect – roundabout and undirected aggression; Irritability – readiness to explode with negative affect at the slightest provocation; Negativism – oppositional behavior, usually against authority; Resentment – jealousy and hatred of others; Verbal – negative affect expressed; Guilt – feelings of having done wrong. Test-retest stability was r=0.82 for the seven hostility subscales (not including Guilt). The intercorrelations among the subscales tange from 0.58 to 0.7.. The more recent research identified using factor analysis only three factors: Neuroticism, General Hostility and Expression of Anger.



STAS – State-Trait Anger Scale includes 10 items and is built upon two subscales: S-Anger – state anger, defined as an emotional state or condition that consists of subjective feelings of tension, annoyance, irritation, fury and rage; T-Anger – trait anger defined in terms of individual differences in the frequency that S-Anger was experienced over time. The subscales were found to be orthogonal. The internal consistency of S-Anger scale was high (r=0.93), while T-Anger scale was divided in two additional subscales – Angry Temperament, which describes the disposition to express anger and Angry Reaction, which describes anger responses. The item-remainder correlation alpha for the T-Anger/T subscale ranged from 0.84 to 0.89 and for T-Anger/R scale – from 0.70 to 0.75.



PEARS- The Perceived Emotional Appropriateness Rating Scale is a 19-item scale which taps observers’ perceptions of a target’s emotional appropriateness for a specific solution. PEARS has three dimensions: Intensity, Type Present, and Type Absent. The Intensity dimension consists of 5 items that relate to the intensity of emotion present (e.g. “The emotions shown were too extreme”). The Type Present dimension includes 4 items that reflect evaluation of the appropriateness of the specific types of emotions that were apparent (e.g. “The emotions were displayed as wrong”). The Type Absent dimension is composed of five items that relate to perceptions that key emotions are missing from the response (e.g. “Key emotions were absent from the person’s expression”). Type Absent and Type Present are positively correlated with each other, r (159)=.62, p<.001, but negatively correlated with Intensity, r (159)=-.51, p<.001 and r(159)= -.23, p < .003, respectively.

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