On the Relationship Between Valence and Arousal in Samples Across the Globe

Michelle Yik*, Chiel Mues, Irene N.L. Sze, Peter Kuppens, Francis Tuerlinckx, Kim De Roover, Felity H.C. Kwok, Shalom H. Schwartz, Maher Abu-Hilal, Damilola Fisayo Adebayo, Pilar Aguilar, Muna Al-Bahrani, Marc H. Anderson, Laura Andrade, Denis Bratko, Ekaterina Bushina, Jeong Won Choi, Jan Cieciuch, Vincent Dru, Uwana EversRonald Fischer, Ivonne Andrea Florez, Ragna B. Garðarsdóttir, Aikaterini Gari, Sylvie Graf, Peter Halama, Jamin Halberstadt, Magdalena S. Halim, Renata M. Heilman, Martina Hřebíčková, Johannes Alfons Karl, Goran Knežević, Michal Kohút, Martin Kolnes, Ljiljana B. Lazarević, Nadezhda Lebedeva, Julie Lee, Young Ho Lee, Chunquan Liu, Rasmus Mannerström, Iris Marušić, Florence Nansubuga, Oluyinka Ojedokun, Joonha Park, Tracey Platt, René T. Proyer, Anu Realo, Jean Pierre Rolland, Willibald Ruch, Desiree Ruiz, Florencia M. Sortheix, Alexander Georg Stahlmann, Ana Stojanov, Włodzimierz Strus, Maya Tamir, Cláudio Torres, Angela Trujillo, Thi Khanh Ha Truong, Akira Utsugi, Michele Vecchione, Lei Wang, James A. Russell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Affect is involved in many psychological phenomena, but a descriptive structure, long sought, has been elusive. Valence and arousal are fundamental, and a key question–the focus of the present study–is the relationship between them. Valence is sometimes thought to be independent of arousal, but, in some studies (representing too few societies in the world) arousal was found to vary with valence. One common finding is that arousal is lowest at neutral valence and increases with both positive and negative valence: a symmetric Vshaped relationship. In the study reported here of self-reported affect during a remembered moment (N = 8,590), we tested the valence-arousal relationship in 33 societies with 25 different languages. The two most common hypotheses in the literature–independence and a symmetric V-shaped relationship–were not supported. With data of all samples pooled, arousal increased with positive but not negative valence. Valence accounted for between 5% (Finland) and 43% (China Beijing) of the variance in arousal. Although there is evidence for a structural relationship between the two, there is also a large amount of variability in this relation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)332.-344
Issue number2
StatePublished - 21 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Preparation of the article was facilitated by the Hong Kong Research Grants Council’s General Research Fund (Projects 16651916 and 16601818) awarded to Michelle Yik. The contributions of Sylvie Graf and Martina Hřebíčková were supported by the Czech Science Foundation (20-01214S) and the Institute of Psychology, Czech Academy of Sciences (RVO: 68081740). The contributions of Nadezhda Lebedeva and Ekaterina Bushina were supported by the Basic Research Program at HSE University, RF. The contributions of Francis Tuerlinckx and Peter Kuppens were supported by KU Leuven Research Council Grant C14/19/054. The contributions of Anu Realo and Martin Kolnes were supported by institutional research funding (IUT2–13) from the Estonian Ministry of Education and Sciences. These findings were presented as a poster at the 2021 Society for Affective Science Annual Conference.We have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Psychological Association


  • arousal
  • culture
  • structure of affect
  • subjective experience
  • valence


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