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Positive Emotions Trigger Upward Spirals Toward Emotional Well-Being

Barbara L. Fredrickson, Thomas Joiner
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The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions predicts that positive emotions broaden the scopes of attention and cognition, and, by consequence, initiate upward spirals toward increasing emotional well-being. The present study assessed this prediction by testing whether positive affect and broad-minded coping reciprocally and prospectively predict one another. One hundred thirty-eight college students completed self-report measures of affect and coping at two assessment periods 5 weeks apart. As hypothesized, regression analyses showed that initial positive affect, but not negative affect, predicted improved broad-minded coping, and initial broad-minded coping predicted increased positive affect, but not reductions in negative affect. Further mediational analyses showed that positive affect and broad-minded coping serially enhanced one another. These findings provide prospective evidence to support the prediction that positive emotions initiate upward spirals toward enhanced emotional well-being. Implications for clinical practice and health promotion are discussed.