Affective or Effective?

by Craig Shrives

What Does "Affective" Mean?

If you're thinking of writing "affective," you probably shouldn't unless you work in the field of psychology. The word "affective" is a rare word, which derives from the equally rare noun "affect." It is unrelated to the verb "to affect." It follows, therefore, that the difference between "affective" and "effective" has nothing to do with the verbs "effect" and "affect." (The difference between effect and affect is a totally different lesson.)
The Quick Answer
  • Write "effective" not "affective."
  • (If you're a psychologist, this might be bad advice. If you're not a psychologist, there's a 99% chance it's good advice.)

Meaning of Affective

Here is an explanation of "affective." If you're not writing about similar issues, you almost certainly need the word "effective."

In psychology, the term "affective" describes something that has been influenced by emotions or feelings. It is a part of the broader field of affective science, which studies a range of emotional phenomena, such as emotions and moods. Affective experiences are complex states that involve components such as subjective experience, physiological responses, and expressive behaviours. These emotional responses can influence an individual's perception, cognition, and behaviour, highlighting the crucial role that affect [the noun] plays in our daily lives and mental processes.
affective or effective?

The Difference between Affective and Effective

The word "effective" is a common word. It describes something that produces a desired result. For example:
  • I need an effective spam filter to block unwanted emails. correct tick
  • Janet's effective communication skills are the reason for her success. correct tick
  • I would like to show you a different, more effective method. correct tick
"Effective" comes from the noun "effect," which means result or outcome. "Affective" comes from the noun "affect," which refers to the observable expression of emotion. It is extremely rare. It is unrelated to the verb "to affect," which means "to have impact on." Let's look at two similar-sounding terms:
  • An affective action
  • (This is an action caused by emotions.)
  • An effective action
  • (This is an action that got the job done, i.e., created the desired effect.)

Confirmatory Test on Affective and Effective

It's your go. Select the correct one:

Common Terms with Effective

Here are some common terms with "effective":
  • effective approach, effective collaboration, effective communication, effective demand, effective dose, effective leadership, effective listening, effective management, effective range, effective resolution, effective solutions, effective strategy, effective teaching methods, cost-effective
Bear in mind that "effective" has another meaning related to time and validity:
  • the effective date
  • ("The effective date" is the date when something comes into effect, e.g., becomes valid.)
  • the effective tax rate
  • ("The effective tax rate" is the tax rate valid at the time.)

Example Sentence with Affective

  • Affective disorders, also known as mood disorders, include depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorder. correct tick
  • The therapist focused on affective strategies to help the client understand her emotions. correct tick
  • The teacher's affective feedback, filled with beaming eyes and smiles, boosted the students' performance. Her affective feedback was effective. correct tick

Ready for the Test?

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