Chapter 8: Fear, Anxiety, and Stress

Fear: Subjective Feelings

Dimensional models view fear as highly unpleasant and highly arousing. Russell’s (1980; see Figure 4) model views fear as  higher in arousal than anger and disgust, but equal in unpleasantness.   Compared to surprise, fear is lower in arousal, but higher in unpleasantness.


Figure 4

Russell’s (1980) Circumplex Model

A circumplex model that is sectioned by a horizontal (x axis) and vertical (y axis) lines that intersect at the center of the circle.

Reproduced from “Independence and bipolarity in the structure of current affect,” by L. Feldman Barrett and J.A. Russell, 1998, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology74(4), p. 970 ( Copyright 1998 by the American Psychological Association.


Watson and Tellegen’s circumplex (1985; see Figure 5) views fear as high in NA, suggesting that fear is a highly activating negative emotion.   In addition, this model views fear and anger (i.e., “hostile”) as similar in activation and unpleasantness.  Compared to surprise, fear is more unpleasant and lower in arousal.


Figure 5

Watson and Tellegen’s (1985) Circumplex Model

Watson and Tellegen’s (1985) Circumplex Model
Reproduced from “Toward a consensual structure of mood.,” by D.T. Watson and A. Tellegen, 1985, Psychological Bulletin, 98(2), p. 221 ( Copyright 1985 by the American Psychological Association.


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