Affect, Affective Variability, and Physical Health: Results from a Population-Based Investigation in China
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Background: There is good evidence linking positive affect with adaptive psychological and physical health outcomes and negative affect with maladaptive outcomes, in multiple contexts and samples. However, recent research has suggested that the fluctuation of emotions, known as affective variability, may also be an important correlate of individuals’ health. Purpose: The present study examined the relationship between affect, affective variability, and self-reported health status in a large representative sample of adults in China. Method: We analyzed cross-sectional data retrieved from the World Health Organization’s study on global ageing and adults’ health. A total of 15,050 Chinese adults (aged between 18 and 99) from China reported their affective experiences during the previous day, perceived health, and their history of multiple chronic illnesses from their medical records (stroke, angina, diabetes, chronic lung disease, depression, and hypertension). Hierarchical multiple regression and logistic regression analyses were employed to analyze the data. Results: Independent of individuals’ mean levels of affect, affective variability was negatively related to subjective health conditions and positively related to diagnosed illness status, after controlling for demographic variables. Results suggest that affective variability increases the likelihood of reported impaired health and diagnosis of affect-related illnesses such as angina and depression. Conclusion: The present study highlighted the importance of studying the impact of affective variability, in addition to that of mean affect levels, on health.
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