AskDefine | Define sadness

Dictionary Definition



1 emotions experienced when not in a state of well-being [syn: unhappiness] [ant: happiness]
2 the state of being sad; "she tired of his perpetual sadness" [syn: sorrow, sorrowfulness]

User Contributed Dictionary





  1. The state or emotion of being sad.
  2. An event in one's life that causes sadness.
    She has experienced many sadnesses in her forty years.



event causing sadness
  • Turkish: üzücü

Extensive Definition

Sadness is an emotion characterized by feelings of disadvantage, loss, and helplessness. When sad, people often become quiet, less energetic and withdrawn. Sadness is considered to be the opposite of happiness, and is similar to the emotions of sorrow, grief, misery and melancholy. The philosopher Baruch Spinoza defined sadness as the “transfer of a person from a large perfection to a smaller one.”
Sadness can be viewed as a temporary lowering of mood (feeling blue), whereas clinical depression is characterized by a persistent and intense lowered mood, as well as disruption to one's ability to function in day to day matters.

Sadness and the accuracy of evaluation

Evidence presented by Forgas (1992, 1994) suggests that our mood has an influence on how accurately we evaluate each other. The effect on our accuracy might be a result of faulty information processing where a person may take his current mood as a source of information. He would then use this biased information as a bases for his evaluation. For instance, happy people are inclined to evaluate others in a positive way, and sad people are inclined to evaluate people in a negative way.
Sad people have been found to be less accurate than happy people in their evaluations, as well as taking a longer period of time for the evaluation. Several explanations for this have been postulated:
  • Functional (Forgas, 1998) – Mood indicates a social situation that in turn enables specific behaviors. Therefore, happiness indicates a positive social situation in which the behavior is more relaxed. In contrast, sadness indicates a dangerous social situation that requires more attention and for that reason requires greater information processing.
  • Motivational (Isen, 1984) -People in a positive mood avoid deep information processing that may cause them to doubt the positive situation they are in. In contrast, people in a sad mood strive to change the negative situation they are in.
  • The ability to process information is influenced by mood (Isen, 1987) - Happy people require less cognitional resources for deep and precise information processing than sad people. One study showed that resource blocking through use of distractions prevented people from deep and precise information processing and raised the comparative effectiveness of people in a sad mood.

Sadness and status

Sadness may affect a person's social standing.
Studies have found that when people recognize an expressed emotion, they tend to attribute additional characteristics to the person expressing that emotion (Halo effect). A happy person, therefore is perceived warmly whereas a sad person is perceived as weak and lacking ability and an angry person is perceived as powerful and dominant.(Keltner, 1997).
Tiedens's study explored whether people provide power to people they like or rather to people they perceive as powerful. The study, which examined social position in political, business and job interview situations, found that people prefer to give status position and power to an angry leader rather than to a sad one. People tend to give power to those perceived as powerful instead of to those whom they like. For example, in the business world, a positive statistical correlation was found between sadness and the extent of a person's social contribution, however angry people were perceived more deserving of status and promotion. Similarly, in the job interviews, angry people were perceived as more suitable for promotion and high salary than sad people.

See also


sadness in Arabic: حزن
sadness in Guarani: Vy'ave'y
sadness in Aymara: Llaki
sadness in Czech: Smutek
sadness in German: Traurigkeit
sadness in Spanish: Tristeza
sadness in Croatian: Tuga
sadness in Icelandic: Depurð
sadness in Italian: Tristezza
sadness in Hebrew: עצב (רגש)
sadness in Lithuanian: Liūdesys
sadness in Newari: नुग मछिनिगु
sadness in Japanese: 悲しみ
sadness in Norwegian: Sørgmodighet
sadness in Polish: Smutek
sadness in Portuguese: Tristeza
sadness in Quechua: Llakikuy
sadness in Sicilian: Tristizza
sadness in Simple English: Sad
sadness in Slovak: Smútok (cit)
sadness in Finnish: Suru
sadness in Turkish: Üzüntü
sadness in Ukrainian: Сум (емоція)
sadness in Yiddish: נידערגעשלאגענקייט
sadness in Chinese: 悲傷

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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