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Study Shows That Sadness Is The Longest Lasting Emotion

flickr / Rachel Melton

Your kid might be in charge of all the crying in your house, but that doesn’t mean you also don’t experience a complex array of emotions beyond hungry, angry, and football. What you probably don’t know is that those emotions have a shelf-life — just like that dip you’re eating (sell by … 2015?) A study journal Motivation and Emotion looked at how long anxiety, fear, joy, anger, and 23 other emotions lasted, and found that one specific feeling was a real time suck. Sadness lasted nearly 240 times longer than all the other emotions. That’s really going to cut into expressing your football feelings … unless you’re a Browns fan.

Researchers asked 233 college students to recall recent emotional events, report their duration, and answer questions about how they dealt with them. Out of 27 emotions, sadness lasted the longest at 120 hours, compared to shame, surprise, fear, disgust, boredom, irritation, relief, and the not appropriately phrased emotion, “being touched,”  all of which lasted 2.5 hours and under. Hatred lasted the second longest of the emotions at 60 hours — because haters are gonna hate, hate, hate. But when your kid says it one day, remember it’s likely just coming from anger … and that’s only a 2 hour commitment.


Authors of the study suspect that the difference comes down to how long people ruminate. Those emotions that cause you to do some serious soul searching last the longest. This also explains Ron Burgundy’s glass case of emotions. While deep sadness (like losing a pet that speaks Spanish) is unavoidable in life, note that the data is limited to self-reporting from college students who ruminate like it’s their jobs. Also note, that your pregnant partner’s emotions can even affect your kid long before in utero. So if they’re sad, remember that getting them mad will only last a fraction of the time.

[H/T] PsyBlog