What is the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule? (PANAS)

positive and negative effect scheduleThe Positive and Negative Affect Schedule or (PANAS) is a scale that consists of different words that describe feelings and emotions. (Magyar-Moe, 2009).

One of these scales measures positive affect, and the other measures negative affect.

Positive affect refers to the propensity to experience positive emotions and interact with others positively, even through the challenges of life.

Negative affect, on the other hand, involves experiencing the world in a more negative way.

This might also occur if you tend to feel negative emotions and act more negatively within your relationships or your surroundings.

While these two states are on opposite ends of the spectrum, both states affect our lives and how we live.

In this article, we will review the idea of Positive and Negative Affect in terms of the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule or PANAS.

Before you read on, we thought you might like to download our three Emotional Intelligence Exercises for free. These science-based exercises will not only enhance your ability to understand and work with your emotions but will also give you the tools to foster the emotional intelligence of your clients, students, or employees.

What is the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule?

There are many self-reported measures available to help practitioners identify client strengths and symptoms of wellbeing. (Magyar-Moe, 2009).

Many of these measures are quick to administer and score and available online. Some of the instruments available measure things like character strengths, life satisfaction, positive emotions, and even coping skills. The PANAS measures positive and negative affect.

The PANAS has been widely utilized as a self-reported measure of affect in both the community and clinical contexts. (Merz et al., 2013).

It is used as a psychometric scale that is intended to show the relationship between positive and negative affect within certain personality traits.

When using the PANAS, participants gauge their feelings and respond via a questionnaire with 20 items. A 5-point Likert scale is then used for scoring.

Clinical studies, as well as non-clinical ones, have found PANAS to be a valid and reliable assessment tool for gauging positive and negative affect. (Merz et al., 2013).

The PANAS was developed in 1988 by psychologists David Watson, Lee Anna Clark, and Auke Tellegen. (Mulder, P., 2018).

The scale intends to measure someone’s positive and negative affect and how a person is feeling at the moment.

What Does it Measure Exactly?

The term affect is a very fancy way of talking about emotions and expressions. It refers to the emotions or feelings that you might experience and display, in terms of how these emotions influence you to act and make decisions.

Positive affectivity refers to positive emotions and expressions such as joy, cheerfulness, or even contentment.

Negative affectivity, on the other hand, refers to negative emotions and expressions such as anger, fear, or sadness.

We often assume that these two things are on opposite ends of the scale, but that is not necessarily so.

For example, you might feel positive affect toward a friend who recently got promoted, but at the same time feel some degree of negative affect because of jealousy.

The PANAS measures both positive and negative emotions for clients from week-to-week as they engage in everyday life. (Magyar-Moe, 2009).

It can also be used as a tool for charting the immediate effects of therapy as well as any outcomes associated with positive psychological exercises, interventions or activities.

The scale is sensitive to momentary changes in affect when clients are directed to complete the form based on their affect at the present moment.

Participants utilizing PANAS use a 5-point scale in which they determine if a concept applies. (Mulder, P., 2018).

  1. Very Slightly or Not at All.
  2. A Little.
  3. Moderately.
  4. Quite a Bit.
  5. Extremely.

The final score is derived out of the sum of the ten items on both the positive and negative side.

The PANAS is designed around 20 items of affect. The scale is comprised of several words that describe different emotions and feelings. (Magyar-Moe, 2009).

Clients are instructed to read each item and then list the number from the scale next to each word.

The intent is to indicate to what extent they feel these emotions at the moment or how they felt over the past week. Terms used in the scale are as follows:

  1. Interested
  2. Distressed
  3. Excited
  4. Upset
  5. Strong
  6. Guilty
  7. Scared
  8. Hostile
  9. Enthusiastic
  10. Proud
  11. Irritable
  12. Alert
  13. Ashamed
  14. Inspired
  15. Nervous
  16. Determined
  17. Attentive
  18. Jittery
  19. Active
  20. Afraid

Scores can range from 10 to 50 for both the Positive and Negative Affect, with the lower scores representing lower levels of Positive/Negative Affect and higher scores representing higher levels of Positive/Negative Affect. (Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegan, A., 1988).


PANAS scale – EPM

A Look at the Validity

The PANAS displays a very good internal reliability that is consistent with Cronbach alpha coefficient scores ranging from 0.86 to 0.90 for the Positive Affect Scale and 0.84 to 0.87 for the Negative Affect Scale (Magyar-Moe, 2009).

This level of consistency is found no matter what time instruction is utilized. Test-reliability was found to be good, over a timeframe of 8 weeks.

The reliability of the test seems to be a little higher as the time frame lengthens and when used with instructions such as right now or over the past week.

Convergent validity was found between the Positive Affect subscale of the PANAS and measures of social activity and diurnal variation in mood.

Discriminant validity was found between the Positive Affect subscale and measures of stress, aversive events, dysfunction, depression, and general distress.

The opposite was true for the Negative Affect subscales. Convergent validity was established between Negative Affect and measures of stress, aversive events, depression, and general distress and dysfunction, and discriminant validity with measures of social activity and diurnal variation in mood (Watson et al., 1988).

According to Watson & Clark (1999), PANAS-X scales, a more developed and refined version of the test, can be used validly to assess long-term individual differences in affect. Further observations showed that PANAS-X scales are:

  • Stable over time.
  • Show significant convergent and discriminate validity when correlated with peer-judgments.
  • Highly correlated with corresponding measures of aggregated state affect.
  • Strongly and systematically related to measures of personality and emotionality.

What Versions of the Scale Are There?

Additional versions of the PANAS scale have been created over time. (Mulder, P., 2018). A few of these are:

  1. PANAS-C
  4. PANAS-X

PANAS-C is the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule for Children. Practitioners who work with school-age children utilize it. (Magyar-Moe, 2009).

This test is designed to make it simpler for children to differentiate different emotional expressions and was created as a tool to help gauge children’s moods.

PANAS-SF or short form is a more concise version of the original measurement.

I-PANAS-SF is a short form and an international version. It is designed for use by different nationalities. The assessment also has fewer ambiguities or less room for misinterpretations.

PANAS-X is a much more refined version of the test, developed in 1994 by Watson and Clark. On a positive note, this version of the assessment can be completed in much less time, approximately 10 minutes.

It is split into three main sections:

  1. The first section contains some basic negative emotions, such as guilt, sadness, and fear.
  2. The second section contains positive emotions, such as self-assurance, attentiveness, and joviality.
  3. The third section involves other affective states such as surprise, serenity, and shyness, for example.

This version is meant as a tool to provide insight into the varying emotional states people often find themselves in.

Common Criticisms

The PANAS has been found to be sensitive to fluctuations in mood. (Magyar-Moe, 2009).

Since the scale is self-reported, that can also make it more challenging to accurately assess a person’s state of mind because measuring something like this tends to be subjective.

A multitude of studies has shown that PANAS has good properties, on a psychometric basis. However, some issues remain.

Watson et al. found that both PA and NA are independent. However, some of the findings about this association are inconsistent.

In one study, Caucasians displayed either zero or negative correlations between Positive Affect and Negative Affect.

On the other hand, a positive correlation between the two was reported for the Japanese version. (Lim, Yu, Kim & Kim, 2010).

As a result of this information, we might surmise that the possible associations between PA and NA may vary depending on cultural diversity.

According to Crawford & Henry (2010), the PANAS is a reliable and valid measure of the constructs it was intended to assess, however, the hypothesis of complete independence between Positive and Negative Affect must be rejected.

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Where Can You Find the Questionnaire?

The questionnaire can be found in many places from the American Psychological Association website, toolshero.com to several academic and psychological sources.

PANAS Questionnaire Template

The following template is indicative of the typical PANAS template. (Magyar-Moe, 2009).

One would begin by first selecting a timespan before filling in the scores.

Time Instructions

Different time instructions can be used when facilitating this scale. One would begin by marking the appropriate option that they are applying for the test:

  • Moment (you feel this way right now)
  • Today (you have felt this way today)
  • Past few days (you have felt this way during the past few days)
  • Week (you have felt this way during the past week)
  • Past few weeks (you have felt this way during the past few weeks)
  • Year (you have felt this way during the past year)
  • General (you generally feel this way)

Clients are then instructed to read each item and gauge how they are feeling by choosing a number from the Likert scale.

The intent is to indicate to what extent they feel these emotions at the moment or how they felt in the past week.

Scale & Scorecard


  1. Very slightly or not at all
  2. A little
  3. Moderately
  4. Quite a bit
  5. Extremely
# Score Feelings/emotions
1 Interested
2 Distressed
3 Excited
4 Upset
5 Strong
6 Guilty
7 Scared
8 Hostile
9 Enthusiastic
10 Proud
11 Irritable
12 Alert
13 Ashamed
14 Inspired
15 Nervous
16 Determined
17 Attentive
18 Jittery
19 Active
20 Afraid

Scoring instructions

To score the Positive Affect, one would add up the scores on lines 1, 3, 5, 9, 10, 12, 14, 16, 17 & 19.

Scores may range anywhere from 10 – 50. Higher scores represent higher levels of positive affect. Mean scores: momentary = 29.7 and weekly = 33.3 (Hudeck, 2016).

To score the Negative Affect, one would add up the scores on items 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 11, 13, 15, 18 & 20.

Scores may range anywhere from 10 – 50. Higher scores represent higher levels of negative affect. Mean scores: momentary = 14.8 and weekly = 17.4 (Hudeck, 2016).

A Take-Home Message

PANAS relies on self-reported measures, which are, of course, subjective. As a result, one might either overestimate or underestimate their moods and feelings.

Positive Affect is something that can be developed and cultivated. Some believe that the idea of affectivity is inborn, meaning that you may have a propensity to be in a good mood, or the propensity to be in a bad mood continually.

If that trait applies to you, you can take steps to change your mood by engaging in positive activities like journaling, doing hobbies, expressing gratitude, and even indulging in life’s little pleasures.

The more you practice having something like Positive Affect, the more it will become your standard way of thinking.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Emotional Intelligence Exercises for free.


  • Crawford, J. R., & Henry, J. D. (2010, December 24). The Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS): Construct validity, measurement properties and normative data in a large non‐clinical sample – Crawford – 2004 – British Journal of Clinical Psychology – Wiley Online Library. Retrieved June 28, 2019, from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1348/0144665031752934
  • Hudeck, A. V. (2016). The effects of mindfulness meditation on electroencephalogram (EEG) asymmetry (Honors thesis). Bowling Green State University, Ohio.
  • Laurent, V., Loisel, T. P., Harbeck, B., Wehman, A., Gröbe, L., Jockusch, B. M., . . . Carlier, M. F. (1999, March 22). Role of proteins of the Ena/VASP family in actin-based motility of Listeria monocytogenes. Retrieved June 28, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10087267
  • Lim, Y., Yu, B., Kim, D., & Kim, J. (2010, September). The positive and negative affect schedule: Psychometric properties of the korean version. Retrieved June 28, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2947803/
  • Magyar-Moe, J. L. (2009, June 25). Positive Psychological Tests and Measures. Retrieved June 28, 2019, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780123745170000036
  • Merz, E. L., Malcarne, V. L., Roesch, S. C., Ko, C. M., Emerson, M., Roma, V. G., & Sadler, G. R. (2013). Psychometric properties of Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) original and short forms in an African American community sample. Journal of affective disorders, 151(3), 942–949.
  • Mulder, P. (2018). PANAS Scale. Retrieved [insert date] from ToolsHero: https://www.toolshero.com/psychology/personal-happiness/panas-scale/
  • PANAS Scale / Positive and Negative Affect Schedule. (2018, July 18). Retrieved June 28, 2019, from https://www.toolshero.com/psychology/personal-happiness/panas-scale/
  • Positive and Negative Affect Schedule. (n.d.). Retrieved June 28, 2019, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/positive-and-negative-affect-schedule
  • Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS). (n.d.). Retrieved June 28, 2019, from https://www.statisticssolutions.com/positive-and-negative-affect-schedule-panas/
  • Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS). (2017, March 30). Retrieved June 28, 2019, from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/health-happiness/positive-and-negative-affect-schedule/
  • Watson D, Clark LA. Negative affectivity: the disposition to experience aversive emotional states. Psychol Bull. 1984;96:465–490.
  • Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegan, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: The PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(6), 106
  • Watson, D., & Clark, L. (1999, August). The PANAS-X Manual for the Positive and Negative Affect … Retrieved from http://www2.psychology.uiowa.edu/Faculty/Clark/PANAS-X.pdf
  • What is Positive and Negative Affect in Psychology? Definitions Scale. (2019, June 19). Retrieved June 28, 2019, from https://positivepsychology.com/positive-negative-affect/


What our readers think

  1. M

    Hello. I am a clinical psychology master’s student and I want to use PANAS on my thesis. Can I compare my two groups on each of the emotions mentioned in the scale with running t-test for each emotion (sad, guilty, scared etc.) or can I only compare them on each subscale (as PA and NA)?

    If I can compare the two groups on each of the emotions mentioned on the scale do you know any articles for me to give as examples?

    Thank you in advance.

    • Julia Poernbacher

      Hi there,

      When using the PANAS, it is recommended to compare your two groups based on the Positive Affect (PA) and Negative Affect (NA) subscales rather than individual emotions. These subscales provide a comprehensive measure of overall positive and negative emotional experiences. However, if you have a specific focus on individual emotions, it may be beneficial to consider additional measures specifically targeting those emotions.

      For further examples and insights, you can refer to articles like Watson et al. (1988) and Thompson (2007) that discuss the development and validation of the PANAS.

      Good luck with your thesis!
      Kind regards,
      Julia | Community Manager

  2. Val

    I just took the test and my score is equal in both negetive and positive affect. What does it indicate?

    • Julia Poernbacher

      Hi Val!

      If your score on the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) is equal for both negative and positive affect, it suggests that you experience an equal amount of positive and negative emotions in your daily life. This may indicate a balance of emotions, where you experience both positive and negative emotions in response to different situations.

      It’s important to note that the PANAS measures your emotions at a specific point in time and may not necessarily reflect your overall emotional state or well-being. Additionally, the interpretation of the scores may depend on the context and purpose of the assessment.

      I hope this gave you some insight into the workings of the test!
      Kind regards,
      Julia | Community Manager

  3. MG

    Is this scale appropriate in asian countries specificaly the Philippines? Can I also ask if there is a contact email address of the author of this PANAS scale? Thank you in advance

    • Caroline Rou

      Hi Mary Grace,

      Thank you for your question. You might be interested in literature like this which dives into the differences of the PANAS measure between Asian and Western samples.

      I hope this helps!

      Kind regards,
      -Caroline | Community Manager

  4. Fiona Olimpiada

    Good day! I would just like to request a specific scoring interpretation for the PANAS, because you stated that a high scores equates to a high positive/negative level. For example, receiving a score of 10-30 equates to a low level of the affect, while 31-50 would equate to a high level of the affect. Can we please request to see the appropriate interpretation for the PANAS Scale? Thank you and stay safe.

    • Caroline Rou

      Hi Fiona,

      Thanks for your question. We based this article on this scoring sheet, however, if you want to read into this with more details I suggest you take a look at this assessment.

      Good luck 🙂

      Kind regards,
      -Caroline | Community Manager

  5. Ally

    Hi I have a study about how mood can influence impulsive shopping and i want to know if I could use the PANAS on knowing their mood while impulsively shopping instead of using a time frame??
    And if we could, should we contact the authors for permission??

    • Nicole Celestine, Ph.D.

      Hi Ally,

      Sounds like interesting research. It sounds like you could use the PANAS for this, yes. And no, the PANAS is free to use for research purposes without permission from the authors.

      Hope this helps!

      – Nicole | Community Manager

      • Anju

        Hello Nicole, I see that you have said that the PANAS is free to use for research purposes. What about non research purposes such as including in a mobile app that patients purchase? Thanks in advance!

        • Julia Poernbacher

          Hi Anju,

          Thank you for reaching out. Yes, the PANAS (Positive and Negative Affect Schedule) is freely available for use in research purposes. However, if you intend to include it in a mobile app that patients will purchase, it is important to note that there may be additional legal and ethical considerations to consider.

          I would suggest that you get in touch with the creators of the scale, such as David Watson.

          Hope this helps!
          Kind regards,
          Julia | Community Manager

  6. Daisy

    Hi !
    Can I add up the total score (include the positive and negative)of this questionnaire to present the overall emotional level ?

    • Nicole Celestine, Ph.D.

      Hi Daisy,

      No, the creators recommend scoring the positive and negative affect subscales separately. Take a look at Table 2 of this document for the general positive and general negative affect items. Totals and means for each of these should be scored separately.

      Hope this helps!

      – Nicole | Community Manager

  7. Ramanjit Garewal

    Dear Nicole…

    I greatly appreciated the write up…

    More than that I appreciated your prompt… detailed and incisive responses to the queries…

    I have completed a Masters in Philosophy…

    Presently I am pursuing a Masters in Yoga…

    The topic for my Dissertation is Yoga and Happiness…

    I will be grateful for your guidance as to which scale I should use for measuring Happiness and how to adapt it to Yoga and any other Resource Materials you may suggest…

    I will be further grateful in case you provide me with the relevant links…

    Do I have to make any payments for the Resource Materials or are the freely available in the public domain…

    Tumhara das…




    …Jai Shree Ram…

    • Nicole Celestine, Ph.D.

      Hi Ramanjit,

      Thank you for your kind words — it’s my pleasure to help 🙂

      Sounds like interesting research you’re doing. One of the most widely used measures of subjective happiness is that by Lyubomirsky and Lepper (1999). It’s freely available to use for research. You can access the items here.

      Whether or not you need to adapt it would depend on the specific of your research design. E.g., if you were using a yoga intervention spanning eight weeks, you might want to include a lead-in to the items that invites the respondent to think specifically about their happiness over the last eight weeks.

      You might also want to consider a subjective or psychological well-being scale. See these articles for more on these.


      Hope these ideas help!

      – Nicole | Community Manager

      • Ramanjit Garewal

        …Jai Shree Ram…

        Dear Nicole…

        First and foremost my apologies for posting the message twice over…

        It only happened because my original message and your reply were not showing …

        As soon as I posted them your reply became visible

        Kindly delete them if possible…

        Deeply grateful for your prompt and detailed reply…

        For your valuable and guidance…

        Thank you so much…

        Tumhara das…





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