Objectives: To compare self-reports of five basic emotions across four samples: healthy, chronic pain, depressed and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and to investigate the extent to which basic emotion reports discriminate between individuals in healthy or clinical groups.
Methods: In total, 439 participants took part in this study: healthy (n = 131), chronic pain (n = 220), depressed (n = 24) and PTSD (n = 64). The participants completed the trait version of the Basic Emotion Scale. Basic emotion profiles were compared both within each group and between the healthy group and each of the three other groups. Discriminant analysis was used to assess the extent to which basic emotions can be used to classify the participants as belonging to the healthy group or one of the clinical groups.
Results: In the healthy group, happiness was experienced more than any other basic emotion. This was not found in the clinical groups. In comparison to the healthy participants, the chronic pain group experienced more fear, anger and sadness, the depressed group reported more sadness and the PTSD group experienced all of the negative emotions more frequently. Discriminant analysis revealed that happiness was the most important variable in determining whether an individual belonged to the healthy group or one of the clinical groups. Anger was found to further discriminate between depressed and chronic pain individuals.
Conclusion: The findings demonstrate that basic emotion profile analysis can provide a useful foundation for the exploration of emotional experience both within and between healthy and clinical groups.