It’s official. A sad feeling lasts longer than being ashamed, surprised, irritated or even bored.
According to a study, sadness often goes hand-in-hand with events of greater impact such as death or accidents.
“You need more time to mull over and cope with what happened to fully comprehend it,” said lead authors Philippe Verduyn and Saskia Lavrijsen from the University of Leuven in Belgium.
To explain why some emotions last for a longer time than others, the two asked 233 high school students to recollect recent emotional episodes and report their duration.
Out of a set of 27 emotions, sadness lasted the longest, whereas shame, surprise, fear, disgust, boredom, being touched, irritated or feeling relief were often over in a flash.
Interestingly enough, boredom also counts among the shorter emotions experienced.
“This means that even though time seems to pass slowly when one is bored, an episode of boredom typically does not last that long,” Verduyn noted.
The researchers discovered that emotions that last a shorter time are typically elicited by events that have relatively low importance attached to them.
On the other hand, long-lasting emotions tend to be caused by events that have strong implications for a person’s major concerns.
“The feeling, therefore, endures while a person rethinks the events and consequences over and over again,” Lavrijsen said.
Duration was found to be a dimension that can differentiate between otherwise very similar emotions.
For instance, guilt is an emotion that persists much longer than shame, while anxiety lingers longer than fear.
“Rumination is the central determinant of why some emotions last longer than others. Emotions associated with high levels of rumination will last longest,” the two authors concluded.