Chapter 13: Positive Emotions

Broden and Build Theory of Positive Emotions

Barbara Fredrickson developed the broaden-and-build theory to explain how positive emotions increase life satisfaction (see Figure 23). This theory includes four steps: 1) experience of positive emotion 2) broadening of thoughts and behaviors 3) building personal resources and 4) transforming the self by increasing health, well-being, and survival.

 

Figure 23
Broaden-and-Build Theory of Positive Emotions

A flowchartof the broaden and build theory of positive emotions
“Positive Emotions” flow via “Broadening” to “Novel thoughts, activities, relationships”, this flows to “Building endduring personal resources (e.g., social support, resilience, skills, and knowledge)” this then flows to “Enhanced health, survival, fulfillment”, which then flows back to “Positive Emotions” completing the flow cycle.

Reproduced from “Positive emotions broaden and build,” by B.L. Fredrickson, In P. Devine and A. Plant (Eds.) Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 47, p. 16, Copyright 2013 Academic Press. Adapted from “Positive emotions” by B.L. Fredrickson and M.A. Cohn, , 2008, In M. Lewis, J.M. Haviland-Jones, and L.F. Barrett Handbook of Emotions (3rd Edition, p. 783). Copyright 2008 Guilford Press.

 

Fredrickson and Cohn (2008, p. 782) define the broaden-and-build theory as:

 

“…positive emotions broaden people’s momentary thought-action repertoires and lead to actions that build enduring personal resources.”

 

Let’s break down this definition.

 

According to this theory, experiencing any positive emotion should immediately and temporarily “broaden” attention, cognitive, and behavioral responses. This is in comparison to negative emotions which narrow our attention and behaviors to the threat in our environment so that we can behave in such a way as to avoid or reduce the threat. In general, Fredrickson means that positive emotions help us to become more aware of our surroundings and to take in more of our external environment. In addition, she states that during this broadening period our possible behaviors are “flexible” (Fredrickson & Cohn, 200, p. 782). By flexible, she means that there are many possible approach behaviors we could exhibit for a positive emotion. Again, in comparison to negative emotions which typically result in one behavior – attack, avoidance, etc. Table 25 displays some examples of the cognitive and behavioral responses for specific positive emotions.

 

Table 25
Cognitive and Behavioral Responses Caused by Specific Positive Emotions

A table showing a positive emotion, and the broadened and flexible cognitive and behavioral responses.
Positive Emotion Broadened and Flexible Cognitive and Behavioral Responses
Joy Urge to play, push limits, be creative
Interest Urge to explore, take in new information and experiences, and explain the self
Contentment Urge to sit back and savor current life circumstances; integrate new views of self and world
Love Urges to play with, explore, and savor loved ones.

Adapted from “Positive emotions” by B.L. Fredrickson and M.A. Cohn, , 2008, In M. Lewis, J.M. Haviland-Jones, and L.F. Barrett Handbook of Emotions (3rd Edition, p. 782). Copyright 2008 Guilford Press.

 

Over a long period of time as we continue to experience positive emotions that broaden our attention/thoughts/behaviors, this process will lead us to build personal resources. These personal resources, in turn, have a direct impact on improved health, life satisfaction, and depressive symptoms. So, Fredrickson views broadening and building as adaptive processes that improve survival and well-being.

 

Evidence for the Broaden Hypothesis

The broaden hypothesis states: “Positive emotions broaden the scopes of attention, cognition, and action, widening the array of percepts, thoughts, and actions presently in mind” (Fredrickson & Branigan, 2005 p. 315)

 

The narrow hypothesis states that negative emotions narrow attention to focus on the threat in the environment.

 

Studies have confirmed the broaden hypothesis by demonstrating that positive emotions cause greater awareness of the visual field and by showing that positive emotions cause people to process information at a more global (vs. detailed) level.

 

Fredrickson and Branigan (2005) tested the broaden hypothesis in two experiments.  In experiment 1, participants were randomly assigned to watch one of five watched film clips to elicit an emotion.  Two clips elicited a positive emotion (amusement, contentment/serenity), two clips a negative emotion (anger/disgust, anxiety/fear), and one clip a neutral state.  After watching their assigned film clip, participants completed the visual processing task.  After completing the experimental tasks, participants reported their subjective feelings.

 

In the Experiment 1 visual processing task, participants were shown a standard image and two possible response options – A or B (see Figure 24).  In the example below, the standard image is three square elements that together make up a triangle.  Participants were asked if the standard image was more similar to the A or B figure.  The A figure represented broadened attention because globally the standard image shows a triangle.  The B answer represented narrowed attention because the narrow/smaller details in the standard image are squares.  For each participant, the number of times they selected the broadened answer was summed.  Higher scores, therefore, indicate greater broadened processing.

 

Figure 24
Visual Processing Task (Fredrickson & Branigan, 2005)

Visual Processing Task
An picture with a standard image featured. The standard image is 3 black squares arranged in the shape of a triangle (one square above, two other squares below to the right and left of the top square). Two more images are featured below the first, standard image, to compare. There is text that reads: “Is A or B more similar to the above figure?” A. Broadened Answer – is 3 black triangles, arranged in the same way as the standard image (the triangle). One triangle is featured above two other triangles that are below it and to the right and left.B. Narrow Answer – Has 4 black squares arranged in the shape of a square. There are two squares above and two squares below, each representing a corner of the square shaped image.

Reproduced from “Positive emotions broaden the scope of attention and thought‐action repertoires” by B.L. Fredrickson and C. Branigan, 2005, Cognition & Emotion19(3), p. 317 (https://doi.org/10.1080/02699930441000238)Copyright 2005 by Psychology Press

 

Statistical analyses (Figure 25) revealed that the amusement clip resulted in greater broadened processing compared to the neutral clip and the contentment/serenity clip trended toward more broadening than the neutral clip (p = .064). Interestingly, the data did not support the belief that negative emotions result in narrowing of attention as the neutral condition did not result in more broadening than the fear/anxiety and anger/disgust clips.

Figure 25
Broadened Processing Scores for 5 Elicited Emotions (Experiment 1; Fredrickson & Branigan, 2005)

Broadened Processing Scores
A bar graph that is inverted. 5 different labels of emotions are plotted on the y axis. The X axis is labeled “Broaden Attention, Higher scores indidcate greater broadening. The X axis starts at 0 and increases in increments of 1, and goes through 8.Anger / Disgust has a bar that extends to the 3.75 point on the x axis.Neutral has a bar that extends to 4 on the x axis.Fear / Anxiety has a bar that extends to the 4.75 point on the x axis.Contentment / Serenity has a bar that extends to about the 5.25 point on the x axis.Amusement has a bar that extends to about the 5.50 point on the x axis.

Reproduced from “Positive emotions broaden the scope of attention and thought‐action repertoires” by B.L. Fredrickson and C. Branigan, 2005, Cognition & Emotion19(3), p. 323 (https://doi.org/10.1080/02699930441000238)Copyright 2005 by Psychology Press

 

In Experiment 2, the same participants were randomly assigned to one of the remaining four clips they had not viewed.  After participants viewed their assigned clip, they provided one or two words to describe their emotion and then completed the Twenty Statemen Test (TST; Kuhn & McPartland, 1954).  In the Twenty Statements Test, participants were instructed to imagine being in the film clip and respond to twenty statements that started with “I would like to .”  Higher scores indicated more broadened behaviors.  Experiment 2 ended with participants again self-reporting their subjective feelings.

 

Similar to Experiment 1, Figure 26 shows that the amusement clip resulted in greater broadened behaviors than the neutral clip and the contentment/serenity clip approached significance (p = .109). When both amusing clips were added together, they showed more broadening than the neutral clip and the two negative emotion clips added together.  Fredrickson and Branigan (2005) stated that findings support the broadening and narrow hypotheses.  But, only the anger/disgust clip showed greater narrowing than the neutral clip.  The fear/anxiety clip was not different from the neutral clip.

Figure 26
Broadened Behaviors Scores for 5 Elicited Emotions (Experiment 2; Fredrickson & Branigan, 2005)

Broadened Behavior Scores
A bar graph that is inverted. 5 different labels of emotions are plotted on the y axis. The X axis is labeled “Broaden Behaviors, Higher scores indidcate greater broadening. The X axis starts at 0 and increases in increments of 2, and goes through 20.Anger / Disgust has a bar that extends to 9 on the x axis.Fear / Anxiety has a bar that extends to the 10 on the x axis.Neutral has a bar that extends to 11 on the x axis.Contentment / Serenity has a bar that extends to 13 on the x axis.Amusement has a bar that extends to 14 on the x axis.

Reproduced from “Positive emotions broaden the scope of attention and thought‐action repertoires” by B.L. Fredrickson and C. Branigan, 2005, Cognition & Emotion19(3), p. 324 (https://doi.org/10.1080/02699930441000238)Copyright 2005 by Psychology Press

 

The researchers also coded the participants responses to the Twenty Statements Test and then analyzed differences in answers for the positive, negative, and neutral film clip conditions. Compared to the neutral condition, participants who watched positive film clips exhibited a greater desire for the following approach behaviors:

 

  • Outdoor/nature activities
  • Exercise/Sports
  • Desire to play
  • Desire to have positive thoughts
  • Less Desire to Sleep/Rest

 

Compared to the neutral condition, participants who watched negative film clips exhibited the following desires:

 

Lowered desire to:

  • eat/drink
  • reminisce
  • complete work/school tasks
  • read

Greater desire to be antisocial for anger/disgust clip and to be around others for fear/anxiety clip.

Fredrickson and Cohn (2008) cite additional work that provides examples of broadening thoughts and behaviors. Below, Table 26 lists these examples with the citations.

 

Table 26
Examples of Broadened Thoughts and Behaviors (Fredrickson & Cohn, 2008)

A table showing examples of broaddened thoughts / behaviors, and a citation for the example
Broadened Thought / Behavior Citation
Creative thoughts Isen, Daubman, & Nowicki, 1987
Open to learning new information Estrada et al., 1997
Improved Verbal Performance Rowe, Hirsch, & Anderson, 2007
More self-overlap with relationship partners Waugh & Fredrickson, 2006; Waugh et al., 2006)
Increased Trust Dunn & Schweitzer, 2005
Reduces “Us versus Them” mindset Dovidio, Gaertner, Isen, Rust, & Guerra, 1995)
Improved memory for faces of other races and reduced ability to identify physical differences between two races Johnson & Fredrickson, 2005

Adapted from “Positive emotions” by B.L. Fredrickson and M.A. Cohn, , 2008, In M. Lewis, J.M. Haviland-Jones, and L.F. Barrett Handbook of Emotions (3rd Edition, p. 784-785). Copyright 2008 Guilford Press.

 

Evidence for the Build Hypothesis

The build hypothesis states “…temporary and transient experiences of  positive emotions, by encouraging a broadened range of actions, over time build enduring personal resources” (Fredrickson & Cohn, 2008 p. 785)

 

To test the build hypothesis, Fredrickson and colleagues (2008) developed a meditation intervention to demonstrate how positive emotions over time can build personal resources, and in turn, impact life satisfaction.  Participants were randomly assigned to a meditation intervention or a control group.   For the meditation group, participants were trained in the Loving Kindness Meditation (LKM), which broadens mindsets using the positive emotions of love and compassion. For an example of LKM, visit Fredrickson’s Positivity Resonance page. This page includes examples of other meditations she has developed.  In LKM, participants started by expressing love and compassion toward the self, then expanded to close others, acquaintances, and strangers.  Participants were instructed to practice LKM at least five days per week for eight weeks.  Including the baseline period, the study lasted for a total of 9 weeks.

 

The second independent variable was time.  First, baseline measures were completed followed by 8 weeks of experimental meditation or control sessions.

 

At each time period, several dependent variables were measured.  During the 9-week study, participants completed self-report measures of 9 positive emotions: amusement, awe, contentment, joy, gratitude, hope, interest, love, and pride, and 8 negative emotions: anger, shame, contempt, disgust, embarrassment, guilt, sadness, and fear.  Using various self-report measures, participants reported on their personal resources.  18 personal resources were divided into four categories – cognitive, psychological, social, and physical.  See Tables 27 through 30 for the measures of personal resources.  Two outcome measures – depression and satisfaction with life – represented the outcome variables.

 

Table 27
List of 6 Cognitive Personal Resources Measured (Fredrickson et al., 2008)

A table showing cognitive personal resources and a definition of measure for each of the resources
Type of Cognitive Personal Resource Definition of Measure
Mindfulness and Awareness the act of not being mindless or not acting on “autopilot”; focusing attention environment and one’s own actions
Agency Thinking belief that one is able to achieve goals
Pathways Thinking belief that multiple ways exist to achieve one’s goals
Savoring the Present Enjoying current experiences
Savoring the Past Enjoying the recall of past experiences
Savoring the Future Enjoying the anticipation of future good experiences

 

Table 28
List of 8 Psychological Personal Resources Measured (Fredrickson et al., 2008)

A table showing psychological personal resources and a definition of measure for each of the resources
Type of Psychological Personal Resource Definition
Optimism Expecting more good than bad events to happen to oneself
Resilience Ability to bounce back from challenges
6 Psychological Well-being Measures Personal Growth, Environmental Mastery, Autonomy, Self-Acceptance, Purpose in Life

 

Table 29
List of 2 Social Personal Resources Measured (Fredrickson et al., 2008)

A table showing social personal resources and a definition of measure for each of the resources
Type of Social Personal Resource Definition
Social Support from Close Others Amount of social support received from close others
Positive Relationships with Others High trust of others, low loneliness

 

Table 30
List of 2 Physical Personal Resources Measured (Fredrickson et al., 2008)

A table showing phsyical personal resources and a definition of measure for each of the resources
Type of Physical Personal Resource Definition
Physical Illness Symptoms Few symptoms
Sleep Duration Lots of sleep!

Reproduced from “Open hearts build lives: Positive emotions, induced through loving-kindness meditation, build consequential personal resources” by B.L. Fredrickson, M.A. Cohn, M.A., K.A. Coffey, J. Pek, and S.M. Finkel, 2008, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95(5), p. 1049-1050 (https://doi.org/10.1037/a0013262) Copyright 2008 by the American Psychological Association.

 

The first important analysis used time and experimental group as the independent variable predicting the amount of the 9 positive emotions averaged together (Figure 27).  Time was a significant predictor of positive emotions for the LKM group, but not the control group. As exhibited in Figure 27, positive emotions increased over time for the LKM group but did not change over time for the control group.  Note that week 3 is the first week LKM participants showed greater positive emotions than control participants.  This suggests the effect of meditation on positive emotions does not happen immediately.

 

Figure 27

Change in Positive Emotion over 9-Week Period for Control and Meditation Groups

Control and Meditation graphed as separate lines on a graph.
A line graph with two separate lines. The X axis is labeled “Time”, and starts at “Baseline”, and increases by 1 week intervals. The Y axis is labeled “Positive Emotions”, and starts at 2.4, and increases by increments of .1, and goes to 3.The two lines are labeled “Control”, and “Meditation”. Both of these lines have a starting point between baseline, and week 1 on the x axis. Each plotted point occurs in between intervals on the x axis. The “Control” line is dotted, and the “Meditation” line is solid.Meditation’s first point is graphed at 2.625 on the y axis, and occurs between “Baseline”, and “Week 1” on the x axis. The next point is plotted at 2.6 on the y axis, in between week 1 and week 2 on the x axis. The next point is plotted at 2.71 on the y axis, and is in between week 2 and week 3 on the x axis. The next point is plotted at about 2.77 on the y axis, and is between week 3 and week 4 on the x axis. The next point is plotted at about 2.78, and is between week 4 and week 5 on the x axis. The next point is plotted at about 2.79 on the y axis, and is between week 5 and week 6 on the x axis. the next point is plotted at about 2.83 on the y axis, and is between week 6 and week 7 on the x axis. The next point is plotted at about 2.915 on the x axis, and is between week 7 and week 8. The last point of the “Meditation” line graph is plotted at about 2.81, and is a half interval past the week 8 marker.The “Control” line graph has a starting point of 2.8 on the y axis, and is between “Baseline” and Week 1 on the x axis. The next point is plotted at about 2.69 on the y axis, and is between week 1 and week 2 on the x axis. The next point is plotted at about 2.745 on the y axis, and is between week 2 and week 3 on the x axis. The next point is plotted at about 2.7 on the y axis, and is between week 3 and week 4 on the x axis. The next point is plotted at 2.645 on the y axis, and is between week 4 and week 5 on the x axis. The next point is plotted at about 2.695 on the y axis, and is between week 5 and week 6 on the x axis. The next point is plotted at about 2.68 on the y axis, and is between week 6 and week 7 on the x axis. The next point is plotted at 2.7 on the y axis, and is between week 7 and week 8. The last point for the “Control” line graph is plotted at about 2.66 on the y axis, and occurs a half interval after week 8, which is the last marked increment on the x axis.

Reproduced from “Open hearts build lives: Positive emotions, induced through loving-kindness meditation, build consequential personal resources” by B.L. Fredrickson, M.A. Cohn, M.A., K.A. Coffey, J. Pek, and S.M. Finkel, 2008, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95(5), p. 1052 (https://doi.org/10.1037/a0013262) Copyright 2008 by the American Psychological Association.

 

This same analysis was conducted for the average of the negative emotions.  Surprisingly, time and experimental group did not impact negative emotions.  Said another way, engaging in LKM did not change the amount of negative emotions people reported.  So, LKM increased positive emotions, but did not decrease negative emotions!

Interestingly, further analysis showed that LKM did not significantly increase any specific positive emotion.  Instead, LKM increased positive emotion experiences as a group (Figure 28).

 

Figure 28

 

Loving Kindness Meditation
An image of two boxes of text. The box of text on the left reads: “Loving Kinddness Meditation” an arrow flows from left to right pointing at the second text box from the first text box. The second text box reads: Increased love, joy, gratitude, contentment, hope, pride, interest, amusement, and awe.

 

The next analysis evaluated two casual linkages by comparing self-reports as week 8 to self-reports at baseline (Figure 29):

  1. Change in Positive Emotions Causing a Change in Personal Resources
  2. Change in Personal Resources Causing a Change in Satisfaction with Life

The above two casual linkages were significant for 9 personal resources: mindfulness, pathways thinking, savoring the future, environment mastery, self-acceptance, purpose in life, social support received, positive relationships with others, and illness symptoms.

 

Figure 29

An image with 4 boxes of text.
Four boxes of text lined up horizontally. The first text box reads: “Loving Kindness Meditation”. a tan arrow points from the first box to the second box. The second box reads: “Increased love, joy, gratitude, contentment, hope, pride, interest, amusement, and awe”. a blue arrow points from the second box to the third box. the third box reads: Increases in: mindfulness, pathways thinking, savoring the future, environmental mastery, self-acceptance, purpose in life, social support received, and positive relations with others. It shows a decrease in: Illnesss symptoms. A blue arrow points from the 3rd box to the 4th box. The 4th box reads: “Increase in life satisfaction”

 

As shown below in Figure 30, the remaining 6 personal resources did increase life satisfaction, but these personal resources were not influenced by the increase in the experience of positive emotions.

 

Figure 30

An image of four boxes of text and illustrations of arrows.
Four boxes of text lined up horizontally. The first text box reads: “Loving Kindness Meditation”. a tan arrow points from the first box to the second box. The second box reads: “Increased love, joy, gratitude, contentment, hope, pride, interest, amusement, and awe”. a blue arrow points from the second box to the third box and a red X is placed over the blue arrow. The third box reads: 6 personal resources: agency thinking, savoring the past, savoring the present, optimism, personal growth, autonomy. A blue arrow points from the 3rd box to the 4th box. The 4th box reads: “Increase in life satisfaction”.
Further analysis showed that although LKM increased positive emotions, an increase in positive emotions did not directly increase the outcome of life satisfaction (as displayed in Figure 31 with the red X). Why is this important? This means positive emotions alone do not cause an increase in life satisfaction. For positive emotions to impact life satisfaction, the positive emotions must first increase personal resources. Another way to view this finding in that personal resources are mediators between positive emotions and life satisfaction.
Figure 31
An image of four boxes of text and illustrations of arrows.
Four boxes of text lined up horizontally. The first text box reads: “Loving Kindness Meditation”. a tan arrow points from the first box to the second box. The second box reads: “Increased love, joy, gratitude, contentment, hope, pride, interest, amusement, and awe”. a blue arrow points from the second box to the third box. There is also a long black arrow that flows from the bottom of the second box up into the fourth box – “Increased life satisfaction”. The long black arrow has a red ‘X’ placed in the middle of it. The third box reads: Increases in: mindfulness, pathways thinking, savoring the future, environmental mastery, self-acceptance, purpose in life, social support received, and positive relations with others. It shows a decrease in: Illnesss symptoms. A blue arrow points from the 3rd box to the 4th box. The 4th box reads: “Increase in life satisfaction”.

 

Similarly, the experimental condition (LKM vs. control) did not directly increase personal resources or life satisfaction (Figure 32).   For LKM to work, it must first increase positive emotions.

 

Figure 32

An image of four textboxes, and illustrations of arrows.
Four boxes of text lined up horizontally. The first text box reads: “Loving Kindness Meditation”. a tan arrow points from the first box to the second box. There are also two other arrows that are flowing out of the bottom of the first text box. One of these arrows is black, and the other is green. The black arrows flows from the first text box to the third text box, and the green arrows flows from the first text box to the fourth text box. Both of these arrows that flow from the bottom of the first text box have a red ‘X’ placed in the middle of it. The second box reads: “Increased love, joy, gratitude, contentment, hope, pride, interest, amusement, and awe”. a blue arrow points from the second box to the third box. There is also a long black arrow that flows from the bottom of the second box up into the fourth box – “Increased life satisfaction”. The long black arrow has a red ‘X’ placed in the middle of it. The third box reads: Increases in: mindfulness, pathways thinking, savoring the future, environmental mastery, self-acceptance, purpose in life, social support received, and positive relations with others. It shows a decrease in: Illnesss symptoms. A blue arrow points from the 3rd box to the 4th box. The 4th box reads: “Increase in life satisfaction”.

 

Similar analyses were conducted with depression as the outcome (instead of life satisfaction).  The broaden and build model was supported, although a few differences exist.  The first difference was that significance was not found for the personal resources social support received (displayed with red X’s in Figure 33).  The second difference was an increase in positive emotions directly caused a decrease in depression.  This means positive emotions reduce depression directly AND indirectly by changing personal resources. In line with the above findings for life satisfaction, experimental group did not directly impact change in personal resources or change in depression.

 

Figure 33

An image of four text boxes, and illustrations of arrows relating some text boxes to others.
Four boxes of text lined up horizontally. The first text box reads: “Loving Kindness Meditation”. a tan arrow points from the first box to the second box. There are also two other arrows that are flowing out of the bottom of the first text box. One of these arrows is bluek, and the other is green. The blue arrows flows from the first text box to the fourth text box, and the green arrows flows from the first text box to the third text box. Both of these arrows that flow from the bottom of the first text box have a red ‘X’ placed in the middle of it. The second box reads: “Increased love, joy, gratitude, contentment, hope, pride, interest, amusement, and awe”. a blue arrow points from the second box to the third box. There is also a long black arrow that flows out of the bottom of the second text box to the bottom of the fourth text box – “Decreased depression”, appearing next to the blue arrow from the first text box. The third box reads: Increases in: mindfulness, pathways thinking, savoring the future, environmental mastery, self-acceptance, purpose in life, social support received, and positive relations with others. It shows a decrease in: Illnesss symptoms. A blue arrow points from the 3rd box to the 4th box. The 4th box reads: “decrease in depression”.

 

Figure 34 graphically displays the broaden-and-build theory based on the study we just reviewed. Make a note that broadening thoughts/behaviors and buidling personal resources are both mediators of the relationship between increasing positive emotions and increasing satisfaction/reducing depression.

 

Figure 34
Pictorial Display of Fredrickson et al. (2008) Results for Broaden-and-Build Theory

A flowchart of four text boxes
Four text boxes with text inside them andtext to the right of them. The textboxes flow from top left, to bottom right of the image. The top left text box reads “Loving Kindness Meidtation Elicits positive emotions”. To the right of this text box is text that reads: “Love, joy, gratitude, contentment, hope, pride, interest, amusement, awe. An arrow flows down from the first text box and to the right towards the second text box. The second text box reads: “Positive emotion broadens, people’s attention and thinking” The text to the right of the second text box reads: “Broadens feelings of warmth and caring toward self and others”. An arrows flows down out of the second text box and to the right toward the third text box. The third text box reads: “Over time, builds personal resources linked to well-being.” The text to the right of this text box reads: “Cognitive, psychological, social, physical”. An arrow flows down out of the bottom of the third text box and to the right towards the fourth and last text box. The last text box reads: “Increased Life Satisfaction, Decreased depression”. There is no text featured to the right of the last text box.

 

Table(s) 31 displays the four types of personal resources identified in research.

Cognitive
  • Mindfulness and Awareness
  • Agency Thinking
  • Pathways Thinking
  • Savoring past, present, future
  • Faster Learning
  • Improved IQ
  • Developing Goals
Psychological
  • Optimism
  • Resilience
  • Life Purpose
  • Self-acceptance
  • Environmental Mastery
  • Autonomy
  • Tranquility
  • Using Productive Coping Mechanisms
Social
  • More relationships
  • Making More Friends
  • Higher Quality Relationships
  • Social Support Given / Received
Physical
  • Reduced Illness
  • Better Immune System
  • Increased Sleep
  • Less Pain
  • Faster recovery from Illness
  • Undoing Effect of Negative Emotions
  • Vagal Tone

Adapted from “Positive emotions” by B.L. Fredrickson and M.A. Cohn, , 2008, In M. Lewis, J.M. Haviland-Jones, and L.F. Barrett Handbook of Emotions (3rd Edition, p. 786-789). Copyright 2008 Guilford Press.

 

Fredrickson (2013) has theorized that broadened thoughts/actions and personal resources that occur for each unique positive emotion (shown in Table 32). The positive emotions are listed in the order of most frequently experienced to rarely experienced. This table shows that Fredrickson (2013) views all positive emotions as causing approach behaviors or expanding thoughts. Remember, that earlier we did discuss how some positive emotions might narrow our thinking or result in avoidance behavior.

 

 

A table showing a positive emotion, which thoughts or behaviors are broadened, and how it builds personal resources
Positive Emotion Broadens Thoughts or Behaviors Builds Personal Resources
Love Any / all of the below, with mutual care Any / all of the below, with social bonds
Joy Play, get involved Skills gained via experiential learning
Gratitude Creative urge to be prosocial Skills for showing care, loyalty, social bonds
Serenity / Contentment Savor and integrate New priorities or views of the self
Interest Explore, learn Knowledge
Hope Plan for a better future Resilience, optimism
Pride Dream big Achievement motivation
Amusement Share, joviality, laugh Social bonds
Inspiration Strive toward own higher ground Motivation for personal growth
Awe Absorb and accommodate New worldviews

Note. Listed from most frequently experienced to rarely experienced. “Positive emotions broaden and build,” by B.L. Fredrickson, In P. Devine and A. Plant (Eds.) Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 47, p. 4, 6, Copyright 2013 Academic Press

In this Yale Experts in Emotion video, Barbara Fredrickson discusses how her undoing effect of positive emotions led to the development of the broaden-and-build theory. She also discusses her view on whether positive emotions are discrete or often co-occur. Start around 3:00 and end around 13:22.

Yale Experts in Emotion Video on Barbara  Fredrickson

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