Valence and arousal are independent dimensions of consciously experienced affect. The former refers to pleasantness; the latter to the degree of excitement or stimulation. The present research explores some of the predictors of these dimensions through the hypothesis that valence relates to positive affect and lack of negative affect, while arousal is tied to negative affect, and that both are predicted by personal wellbeing, considered as a way of achieving happiness. The occurrence of depressive symptoms is also considered within the hypothesis: as a facet of negative affect, as lack of wellbeing, or as an independent dimension placed at the same level as wellbeing, and which relates to both positive and negative affect (considered as mediators). Sixty-one participants were asked to view on a computer screen a series of 20 neutral pictures, having medium valence and low arousal, and complete self-report questionnaires to assess affect, personal wellbeing, and the occurrence of depressive symptoms. After picture viewing, valence and arousal judgments were requested. In the analysis, three competing models with latent variables were tested, to assess at best the role depressive symptoms have. They confirmed that valence is predicted by high positive and low negative affect, arousal by negative affect and even directly by the occurrence of depressive symptoms, and that personal wellbeing and depressive symptoms are the starting point. They are negatively correlated and predict positive (both) and negative affect (just the occurrence of depressive symptoms). The discussion focuses on both theoretical and practical implications. Suggestions for future research are given.
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