Affect in Psychology

The interpretation of affect will depend on the perspective, from a modern psychological point of view, affect is the mental counterpart of internal bodily representations associated with emotions. (Martins, 2021). In which behaviors are somewhat associated with motivation, intensity, force and personality dispositions. Some might characterize affect as an observable and immediate expression of emotion when approached with situations. (Martins, 2021). 

As it can be observed, it is possible to identify affect as a sign that can be detected and used for assessing the emotional state of a patient´s expression. Being that it is an observable factor, there are some important patterns to look for regarding affect and the affective state of an individual. Firstly is the incongruent affect, which is when the expression of an individual's feeling appears opposite from what is considered appropriate in the context. To show an example, if the individual tells a story that is normally considered as sad, and they are smiling while telling it. Secondly, is the lack of affect, when an individual is described as they are detached, as if they seem to show no emotions or feeling when a certain emotion is commonly expected in a specific situation. Lastly, overreactions, that is when an individual shows an emotional response that is considered excessive according to a certain situation. (Martins, 2021).

It is possible to distinguish affect as a positive or negative state, this will be the valence of affect. Along with activation they form a uniformed state of affect, even though it is possible to center on one of the properties, it is not possible to have a positively or negatively related feeling without some intervention of activation. 

Negative, or unpleasant affect will be associated with negatively related emotions such as pain, anxiety, frustration and craving. On the other hand, positive affect is related to emotions like relaxation, relief, excitement, pleasure and joy. An individual can experience both positive and negative affect according to the level of activation. A positive affect can occur from a high level of activation, or a low level of activation, and the other way around. Thus, an individual can be calm, which can be considered low activation and a positive affect. While an individual can also be depressed, which is low activation, but a negative affect. (Martins, 2021).


Martins, S. (2021). Psychopathology: Psychopathology of emotion. [Slide 10-13]. UEM.blackboard. Retrieved from:

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