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Evaluating And Criticizing The Positive And Negative Affect Schedule (Panas)

1553 words - 7 pages

In the field of Psychology, more specifically health-behavioral research, there has been resounding interest in the structure and measurement of, what the psychological community refers to as, affect. Affect refers to how we, as humans, “experience emotion” and can be broken down into two dominant affective state dimensions, positive and negative affect (Hogg, Abrams, & Martin, 2010)(Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988). According to Watson, Clark, & Tellegen (1988), positive affect (PA) refers to how enthusiastic and active a person is and negative affect (NA) refers to a general dimension of distress and displeasure. Tellegen (1985) claims that not only do these terms refer to affective state, but also affective trait dimensions, indicating that, “Trait PA and NA roughly correspond to the personality factors of extraversion and neuroticism,” respectively. While many PA and NA scales have been developed, however, these scales were unable to develop items for PA and NA that were statistically independent of each other. In an attempt to operationalize the orthogonal dimensions of positive and negative affect, Watson, Clark & and Tellegen (1988) developed The Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (i.e. PANAS). In the following review, I will evaluate and critique the PANAS, as a measure of trait affect, focusing on the reliability and validity of scores, test content, and the manner in which it is used.
The PANAS is one of the most widely used affective measures in the field. The schedule consists of 20 items, 10 for the Positive Affect (PA) scale (e.g. interested, excited) and 10 for the Negative Affect (NA) scale (e.g. distressed, upset) (Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988). Each item rated by the participant is based upon a 5-point Likert-scale, ranging from “very slightly or not at all” to “extremely” (Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988). To achieve two different scales for Positive and Negative Affect that would be as close to statistically independent as possible, items for each respective list were only chosen if they showed loadings of |.40| or higher on one factor and |.25| or lower of the other, leaving a final inter-correlation of |-.15| (Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988)(Ekkekakis, 2013).
Despite the authors’ best attempts to create a seemingly statistically independent scale, one of the biggest controversies regarding the PANAS is the purported independence of its subscales. It has been argued that it is counter-intuitive to regard happiness and sadness as unrelated constructs, as all measures of PA and NA developed before the PANAS have proven to be at least moderately negatively correlated (Costa & McCrae, 1980). Despite their own findings, as well as many others’, Watson et al (1988) attribute these inadequacies in the statistical backing of their claims to the instruments themselves and not their purported notion of independence. Moreover, using Confirmatory Factorial Analysis (CFA), it was reported that, in both scales,...

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