Despite widespread interest in variance in affect, basic questions remain pertaining to the relative proportions of between-person and within-person variance, the contribution of days and moments, and the reliability of these estimates. We addressed these questions by decomposing negative affect and positive affect variance across three levels (person, day, moment), and calculating reliability using a coordinated analysis of seven daily diary, ecological momentary assessment (EMA), and diary-EMA hybrid studies (across studies age = 18-84 years, total Npersons = 2,103, total Nobservations = 45,065). Across studies, within-person variance was sizeable (negative affect: 45% to 66%, positive affect: 25% to 74%); in EMA more within-person variance was attributable to momentary rather than daily level. Reliability was adequate to high at all levels of analysis (within-person:.73-.91; between-person:.96-1.00) despite different items and designs. We discuss the implications of these results for the design of future intensive studies of affect variance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1683-1698
Number of pages16
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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