Is frequent sighing an indicator of dispositional negative emotionality? A multi-sample, multi-measure naturalistic-observation study

Alexander F. Danvers, Anne Milek, Allison M. Tackman, Deanna M. Kaplan, Megan L. Robbins, Angelina Poslinelli, Suzanne Moseley, Charles L Raison, David A Sbarra, Matthias R. Mehl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Sighing is a common nonverbal everyday behavior thought to signal the experiencing of negative emotions. Prior research from a small-scale study suggests that observed daily expressions of sighing is associated with subclinical depression (Robbins, Mehl, Holleran, & Kasle, 2011). This paper replicates and extends these findings, hypothesizing that individual differences in negative emotionality are associated with frequency of spontaneous sighing. Study 1 (N = 320) documents a strong lay assumption that frequent sighing signals dispositional negative emotionality. Study 2 estimates the actual association between daily sighing, assessed naturalistically using the Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR), and negative emotionality in a large, diverse, pooled sample (N = 469). Bayesian tests across six measures (neuroticism, depression, anxiety, stress, fatigue, loneliness) strongly support the null model. Together, results suggest the common intuition that people who sigh frequently experience more negative emotionality is inaccurate. Assessing whether an individual sighs more (or less) than others cannot be used to infer that they experience more negative emotions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104046
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
Volume90
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2021

Keywords

  • Depression
  • Electronically activated recorder
  • Emotion
  • Mobile sensing
  • Sighing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Psychology(all)

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