Threat sensitivity, incentive sensitivity, and the experience of relief

Charles S. Carver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Relief is a positively valenced affect that occurs when a threat is removed or avoided. Among dimensional theories, this experience is accounted for by appealing to one of two different self-regulatory systems. Some hold that an approach system is responsible for all types of positively valenced affect, including this one. Others hold that an avoidance system is responsible for this particular positive affect. Two studies are reported (total N=422) that examined this issue, using a method in which individual differences in overall threat sensitivity and incentive sensitivity were assessed and related to responses to relief-related hypothetical scenarios. Threat sensitivity was the strongest positive correlate of relief in both studies. Reward responsiveness also related positively (independently) to relief. Fun seeking related inversely to relief. Discussion centers on theoretical implications of the findings for viewing effects of threat sensitivity, and on relations between dimensional and appraisal-based views of affective experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-138
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of personality
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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