The sadness is the most enduring of emotions, according to one of the first studies to look at why some emotions last much longer than others .
When compared to being angry, ashamed, surprised and even upset; sadness stands out.
The study, published in the journal Motivation and Emotion , found that sadness tends to be associated with events that have had a major long-term impact on people’s lives, such as mourning ( Verduyn & Lavrijsen 2014 ).
Saskia Lavrijsen, co-author of the study, explained:
“ Rumination is the central determinant of why some emotions last longer than others . Emotions associated with high levels of rumination will last longer.
Shorter emotions are typically – but, of course, not always – triggered by events of relatively low importance. On the other hand, lasting emotions tend to be something very important “.
The results come from a survey of 233 students who were asked to recall emotional experiences and how long they lasted.
Here is the amount of time each emotion lasted, on average:
At the extremes, while disgust and shame tended to pass within 30 minutes, sadness continued for an average of 120 hours .
Boredom, in turn, tends to go away in a couple of hours, although, of course, it seems a lot longer!
There were also fascinating patterns between connected emotions. For example, fear tends to be short-lived , while your close cousin’s anxiety lasts much longer .
In the same way, the shame passed relatively quickly, but the feeling of guilt tends to stay for much longer (Uncle Freud would blame the Superego ).