Lecture 4: Positive Emotions – Broaden & Build Theory

Lecture 4: Positive Emotions – Broaden & Build Theory

21929 Positive Psychology & the Self

Dr Rosemary Sainty


Subject Overview

Session Topic

1 Positive Psychology: Foundations and Workplace Application

2 Virtues and Character Strengths

3 Happiness, Flow and Flourishing

4 Positive Emotions: Broaden and Build Theory

5 Appreciative Inquiry

6 Resilience: Developmental and Organisational Perspectives

7 Psychological Capital: Positive Organisational Behaviour

8 Mindfulness at Work

9 Positive Organisational Scholarship and Organisational Compassion Studies

10 Meaning, Purpose and Positive Connections

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• Types of Emotions • Positive Emotion & Wellbeing

– Health & Longevity – Relationships – Cognitive processing – Work performance

• Emotion & Causality – Deterministic Views • Emotion & Freewill

– Gratitude – Forgiveness

• Emotion & the Autonomic Nervous System • Positive Emotions and the Broaden and Build Theory • Positive Upward Spirals • Positive /Negative Ratios

• When people feel good, their thinking becomes more creative, integrative, flexible and open to information…

• Positive emotions broaden the mindset and by so doing build enduring personal resources

• Intellectual, physical, social, psychological

• History, periods of flourishing and now buffering

Barbara Frederickson 2003. 5

Positive emotions don’t just transform individuals…


Cultivating compassion..

Setting the Scene: The Power of the

Positive “Think about the good in the world, or otherwise find positive meaning, and you seed your own positive emotions. A focus on goodness cannot only change your life and your community, but perhaps also the world, and in time create a heaven on earth”. (Fredrickson 2003,p.335)

Draws links between sustainability and positive emotions at the UN Global Compact and the Sustainable Development Goals.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4AI Fa8C_mU&t=0s&list=PLAE24762C189164 67&index=3


Universally Recognised Emotions 3.5 mins (Eckman 1992, 1992, Eckman & Friesen 1986)


Emotion (Seligman 2002)

• Two basic forms of emotion evaluated according to psychological & physiological effects: – Positive: cheerfulness, joy, contentment, peace,


– Negative: anger, fear, sadness, disgust, guilt, contempt

– …and physics envy…


Positive Emotion & Well-Being (Seligman, Steen, Park & Peterson 2005)

• Increasing recognition over past two

decades of the value of positive emotions:

– As authentic as negative emotions

– “Good times” more than offset negative emotions

– Enhance well-being even when not distressed

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Health & Longevity (Danner, Snowdon & Friesen 2001)

• Study of 180 nun’s biographical graduation sketches for positive terms

• At 85, 90% of the most positive were still alive, as opposed to 34% of the least positive

• At 94, 54% of the most positive were alive as opposed to 11% of the least positive


Relationships (Harker & Keltner 2001)

• 141 senior-class photos from 1930 were studied for Duchenne & non-Duchenne smiles

• 30 years later Duchenne smiles accurately predicted who was in a marriage, stayed married & experienced greater happiness

• Physical attractiveness was ruled out as an associated variable


Cognitive Processing (Aspinwall & Brunhart 1996)

• Participants assessed for positive emotions

• Presented with alarming health-risk information

– (i.e. articles linking sunbathing with melanoma presented to people who sunbathe; or caffeine with breast cancer to coffee drinkers)

• A week later, those with higher positive emotions remembered more of the health risk information


Work Performance (Straw, Suton & Pelled 1994)

• 272 employees were measured on various assessments of emotion

• Employees with more positive emotions had better evaluations & higher pay

• They also choose higher goals, showed greater endurance

Correlation ≠ causation

• Does experience influence emotion?

– James-Lange theory: stimuli cause physiological changes in the body, resulting in different emotional experiences

• Or, does emotion influence experience?

– Cognitive theory: emotional experience depends upon perception or judgment of situations


• Think of a lemon…

• Can we train our mind to influence our body?

• The mind is your ally …think positive!

Mind Body Connection


Temporal Dimensions

• Future focused

– optimism, hope, faith & trust

• Present

– joy, ecstasy, calm, zest, pleasure & flow

• Past

– satisfaction, contentment, fulfillment, pride & serenity


Determinist Environmental Narratives

• Darwin

– Humans are a collection of adaptive

characteristics fine tuned to ensure

survival & reproduction

• Freud

– Personality is “fixated” on early

childhood experiences involving

sexual & aggressive emotional


– When unexpressed, these emotional

conflicts create pressure & force their

appearance in undesirable ways



Freedom to Choose (Beck 1976)

• Cognitive theory: People can create a

more desirable present & future by

choosing positive emotional responses to

past & present experiences

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Gratitude (Emmons 2007; Emmons & McCollough 2003)

• Recognising benefits & gifts in one’s life, feeling thankful for them, acknowledging the source of those gifts & expressing appreciation

– Associated with happiness, vitality, hope & helpfulness

• Promotes:

– savouring, being in the present, self-worth, coping, moral fortitude & social bonds

• Neutralises:

– negative emotions, boredom & hedonic adaptation

• Practice/Research:

– Gratitude Journal (Counting 5 daily blessings vs. daily hassles)

– Gratitude visit (Seligman et al. 2005) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyLYgR2nDkc (Seligman, 1.5 mins)

– How it works: https://powerofwellness.com/news/?action=view&nid=6 (in tut)


Forgiveness (Worthington 2000)

• Is a Conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve forgiveness

• Objections

– Unjust, unfair to the victim, blocks natural revenge instinct

• Forgiveness is not

– forgetting, condoning or excusing offenses, an obligation to reconcile or release an offender from legal accountability

• Associated with

– Happiness, health, better relationships, kindness & connectedness, healing (including within organisations)


Forgiveness: Reach Formula

• Recall – the pain

• Empathise – with the other’s situation

• Altruistic – gift of your forgiveness

• Commit – to forgiving publicly

• Hold – onto your decision


Positive Emotion & the Autonomic Nervous System

(Barrios-Choplin, McCraty & Cryer 1997)

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Positive Emotions and the Broaden and Build Theory

(Fredrickson 1998, 2003)


How it all started: the undo affect of positive emotions:

“I have had the good fortune to work on the leading edge of the new and amply rigorous science of positive emotions…”

“. . . the evolutionary meaning of positive emotions such as happiness might be to function as efficient ‘undoers’ of states of autonomic nervous system arousal produced by certain negative emotions…” (Levenson, 1988, p. 25).

Broaden and Build Theory

• When a source causes positive emotions, leads to a broadening of mindsets eg big picture. People think differently: more creative, integrative, flexible and open to information

• “In my broaden-and-build theory, I propose that the positive emotions broaden an individual’s momentary mindset, and by doing so help to build enduring personal resources ” Fredrickson (2013).

• 2-Minute Tips: How to be more positive (with Barbara Fredrickson)


Broaden and Build Theory


Foundations of Well-Being Interview Excerpt with Barbara Fredrickson (11 mins) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nh2CLyVpglk


Positive Upward Spirals


What are our top 10 positive emotions?


F = Fullscreen H = Hide/show the results C = Close/open the voting

• Go to www.menti.com

• https://www.mentimeter.com/s/93b09cd0ecfef53 10a8dbbba45de9ddb/c26c950a1d0a/edit

Unhide slide!

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Positive Emotions in the Workplace (Fredrickson, 2013)

• Loving-kindness meditation (LKM) grp experience increasing levels of positive emotions across the 9 weeks of daily reporting in large IT company.

• 9 of the 18 resources assessed provided support for the build hypothesis, including cognitive resources, psychological resources, social resources and physical resources


Positive Emotions in the Workplace (Sekerka, Vacharkulksemsuk & Fredrickson, 2012)

• Leaders expression of positive emotions in the workplace creates perceptions of leaders effectiveness. Emotions from the top affect organisational “climate”.

• People perform better when workday experiences include more positive emotions – motivated, favourable perception of team, leaders and the organisation.

• Positive emotions in the workplace lead to transformational change and sustainable enterprise.


Upward Spirals of Organisational Development, Transformative Cooperation and Sustainability!

(Sekerka, Vacharkulksemsuk & Fredrickson, 2012)

36 EXAMPLES: https://appreciativeinquiry.champlain.edu/

Positive/Negative ratios

• Don’t be overly “negative about being negative” (Held 2004, p. 18)

• Too little stress – boredom, lack of hope • Hospital staff studies found those with

optimum levels of functioning demonstrated a 3:1 ratio (Shrira et al. 2011)

• Gottman’s (1994, 1998) research demonstrates the emotional patterns characteristic of successful marriages was a 5:1 ratio

– Marriages cascading towards separation have 1:1 ratios


Fredrickson’s Positivity Ratio:



– https://www.youtube.com/watc h?v=Ds_9Df6dK7c (6.5 mins and the Tipping Point)

– Test your current positivity ratio: http://www.positivityratio.com/ single.php

Latest Thinking from IPPA 2019


References Aspinwall, L.G. & Brunhart, S.M. 1996, ‘Distinguishing optimism from denial: Optimistic beliefs predict attention to health

threats’, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, vol. 22, no. 10, pp. 993-1003.

Barrios-Choplin, B., McCraty, R. & Cryer, B. 1997, ‘An inner quality approach to reducing stress and improving physical and emotional wellbeing at work’, Stress Medicine, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 193-201.

Beck, A.T. 1976, Cognitive therapy and the emotional disorders, 2 edn, Published by International Universities Press, Madison, CT.

Danner, D.D., Snowdon, D.A. & Friesen, W.V. 2001, ‘Positive emotions in early life and longevity: Findings from the nun study ‘, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 80, no. 5, pp. 804-13.

Ekman, P. 1992, ‘Facial expressions of emotion: an old controversy and new findings’, Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological sciences, vol. 335, no. 1273, pp. 63-9.

Ekman, P. 1992, ‘Are there basic emotions?’, Psychological Review, vol. 99, no. 3, pp. 550-3.

Ekman, P. & Friesen, W.V. 1986, ‘A new pan-cultural facial expression of emotion’, Motivation and Emotion, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 159-68.

Emmons, R.A. 2007, Thanks, Houghton Mifflin, New York, NY.

Emmons, R.A. & McCullough, M.E. 2003, ‘Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 84, no. 2, pp. 377-89.

Fredrickson, B.L. 1998, ‘What good are positive emotions’, Review of General Psychology, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 300-19.

Fredrickson, B.L. 2003, ‘The value of positive emotions’, American Scientist, vol. 91, no. 4, pp. 330-5.

Fredrickson, B.L., 2013 (b). Positive emotions broaden and build. In Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 47, pp. 1-53). Academic Press.

Goleman, D. 1998, Working with emotional intelligence, Bantam, New York.

Gottman, J.M. 1994, What predicts divorce?: The relationship between marital processes and marital outcomes, Lawrence Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ.

Gottman, J.M., Coan, J., Carrere, S. & Swanson, C. 1998, ‘Predicting martial happiness and stability from newlywed interactions’, Journal of Marriage and the Family, vol. 60, no. 1, pp. 5-22.

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References cont. Harker, L. & Keltner, D. 2001, ‘Expressions of positive emotion in women’s college yearbook pictures and their relationship to

personality and life outcomes across adulthood’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 80, no. 1, p. 112.

Held, B.S. 2004, ‘The negative side of positive psychology’, Journal of Humanistic Psychology, vol. 44, no. 1, pp. 9-46.

Sekerka, L.E., Vacharkulksemsuk, T. & Fredrickson, B.L. 2012, ‘Positive emotions’, in K.S. Cameron & G.M. Spreitzer (eds), The oxford handbook of positive organisational scholarship, Oxford University Press, New York ,pp.168-177

Seligman, M.E.P. 2002, Authentic Happiness, Free Press, New York, NY.

Seligman, M.E.P., Steen, T.A., Park, N. & Peterson, C. 2005, ‘Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions’, American Psychologist, vol. 60, no. 5, pp. 410-21.

Shrira, A., Palgi, Y., Wolf, J.J., Haber, Y., Goldray, O., Shacham-Shmueli, E. & Ben-Ezra, M. 2011, ‘The positivity ratio and functioning under stress’, Stress and Health, vol. 27, no. 4, pp. 265-71.

Staw, B.M., Sutton, R.I. & Pelled, L.H. 1994, ‘Employee positive emotion and favorable outcomes at the workplace’, Organization Science, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 51-71.

Worthington Jr, E.L. 2000, ‘Forgiving usually takes time: A lesson learned by studying interventions to promote forgiveness’, Journal of Psychology and Theology, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 3-20.

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Next week

Appreciative Inquiry


Youtube video on Appreciative Inquiry

Reading & Questions

Whitney, D. 1998. ‘Let’s change the subject and change our organization: An appreciative inquiry approach to organization change’. Career Development International, vol. 3, no. 7, pp. 314-319.

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