Barbara FredricksonKenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Principal Investigator of the PositiveEmotions and Psychophysiology Lab at the University of North Carolina WHY DO HUMANS HAVE POSITIVE EMOTIONS?
Specific-ActionTendencies The idea that emotions prepare the body both physically and psychologically to act in particular ways. E.g. Anger attack; fear escape; disgust expel WHAT ABOUT POSITIVE EMOTIONS???
Importance to Survival If +ve emotions are irrelevant to survival, what good are they? According to Fredrickson’s theory, +ve emotions EXPAND cognition and behavioural tendencies. Argues that +ve emotions increase the number of potential behavioural options
Momentary thought-actionrepertoires A range of potential actions the body and mind are prepared to take +ve emotional states expanded cognitive flexibility resource building that becomes useful over time Resources outlast the transient emotional state functions to improve coping and odds of survival
Broaden Hypothesis Central hypothesis +ve emotions broaden scopes of attention and cognition and lead to a widened array of thoughts and action impulses in the mind. Therefore -ve emotions shrink these same things
Evidence? Global Bias in Global-Local Visual Processing:
Enlarging Though-ActionRepertoires Again, watch emotion eliciting videos but using a modified Twenty StatementsTest. Just after viewing the film, but prior to the TST, participants were asked todescribe, in a word or two, the strongest emotion they felt while viewing the film.Next, they were asked to step away from the specifics of the film and take amoment to imagine being in a situation yourself in which this particular emotionwould arise (the one you wrote on the previous page). Concentrate on all theemotion you would feel and live it as vividly and as deeply as possible. Given thisfeeling, please list all the things you would like to do right now. These instructions were followed by 20 blank lines that began with: ``I wouldlike to____. The number of statements participants completed was tallied, with apossible range from 0 to 20. Higher scores indicate a larger thought-actionrepertoire.
Line 4 Action Urges! AmusementBoredom/contentment Anger Average tendencies Disgust Fear 0 5 10 15
Inclusive social thinking Own Race Bias: Caucasians viewed Black and White faces and later asked to recall if they had seen the faces previously. By random assignment, they viewed an emotion- eliciting video.
The Build Hypothesis If we accept that +ve emotions broaden people’s mindsets – what is its purpose? Build hypothesis suggests an adaptive value that is put in reserve over the long-term. Resources gained through +ve emotional experiences may be physical, social, psychological or intellectual.
Evidence? Fredrickson recently found experimental support for the build hypothesis. In a 2 month study, participants either attended a workshop cultivating positive emotions through meditation or had no intervention whatsoever. Results indicated that increasing the level of positive emotions leads to numerous benefits to health and well-being.
What we know: Anger, fear and sadness elicit distinct responses in the autonomic nervous system. Positive emotions appear to have no autonomic responses. BUT They help put an end to any existing cardiovascular reactivity caused by –ve emotions!.. UNDO!
Proof? Fredrickson gave participants a stressor – the possibility of giving a public speech. During preparation – bodies increased sympathetic nervous system activation (sweaty palms, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure) After a minute or so of this state of arousal, participants were told they do not have to perform the speech and instead view a randomly assigned video clip to elicit a +ve, -ve or neutral emotion.
Confirmed +ve emotions hold clear benefits. How much should we cultivate in our lives? What is an optimal amount of positive emotion relative to negative emotion?
Research Fredrickson’s research into businesses, marriages, and depression shows: Depression, failing marriages and unsuccessful business teams are characterised by very low ratios of positive to –ve emotions (less than 1-1). That is, for every –ve emotion, there is on average, less than one +ive Optimal well-being, happy marriages and successful business teams show much higher positivity ratios (above 3-to-1) – that is, for every one –ve emotions, on average there are three or more +ve! Fredrickson and Losada (2005) suggests 3:1 – 11:1 are what humans need to flourish.