August 10, 2017 – Positive and Negative Affect More Concurrent among Blacks than Whites
While positive and negative affect are inversely linked, people may experience and report both positive and negative emotions simultaneously. However, it is unknown if race alters the magnitude of the association between positive and negative affect. The current study compared Black and White Americans for the association between positive and negative affect.
We used data from MIDUS (Midlife in the United States), a national study of Americans with an age range of 25 to 75. A total number of 7108 individuals were followed for 10 years from 1995 to 2004. Positive and negative affect was measured at baseline (1995) and follow-up (2004). Demographic (age and gender), socioeconomic (education and income) as well as health (self-rated health, chronic medical conditions, and body mass index) factors measured at baseline were covariates. A series of linear regressions were used to test the moderating effect of race on the reciprocal association between positive and negative affect at baseline and over time, net of covariates.
In the pooled sample, positive and negative affect showed inverse correlation at baseline and over time, net of covariates. Blacks and Whites differed in the magnitude of the association between positive and negative affect, with weaker inverse associations among Blacks compared to Whites, beyond all covariates.
Weaker reciprocal association between positive and negative affect in Blacks compared to Whites has implications for cross-racial measurement of affect and mood, including depression. Depression screening programs should be aware that race alters the concordance between positive and negative affect domains and that Blacks endorse higher levels of positive affect compared to Whites in the presence of high negative affect.