Week 5 optional Fred - Positive Affect and the Complex Dynamics of Human Flourishing Barbara L Fredrickson Marcial F Losada University of Michigan

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Positive Affect and the Complex Dynamics of Human Flourishing Barbara L. Fredrickson University of Michigan Marcial F. Losada Universidade Cato ´lica de Brası´lia Extending B. L. Fredrickson’s (1998) broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions and M. Losada’s (1999) non- linear dynamics model of team performance, the authors predict that a ratio of positive to negative affect at or above 2.9 will characterize individuals in ±ourishing mental health. Participants ( N 5 188) completed an initial survey to identify ±ourishing mental health and then provided daily reports of experienced positive and negative emotions over 28 days. Results showed that the mean ratio of posi- tive to negative affect was above 2.9 for individuals clas- si²ed as ±ourishing and below that threshold for those not ±ourishing. Together with other evidence, these ²ndings suggest that a set of general mathematical principles may describe the relations between positive affect and human ±ourishing. Keywords: nonlinear systems, emotions, broaden-and- build theory, positive psychology, subjective well-being T o ±ourish means to live within an optimal range of human functioning, one that connotes goodness, generativity, growth, and resilience. This de±nition builds on path-breaking work that measures mental health in positive terms rather than by the absence of mental illness (Keyes, 2002). Flourishing contrasts not just with pathology but also with languishing : a disorder intermedi- ate along the mental health continuum experienced by people who describe their lives as “hollow” or “empty.” Epidemiological work suggests that fewer than 20% of U.S. adults ²ourish and that the costs of languishing are high; relative to ²ourishing (and comparable to depres- sion), languishing brings more emotional distress, psycho- social impairment, limitations in daily activities, and lost work days (Keyes, 2002). What predicts whether people will ²ourish or lan- guish? Are the predictors similar for individuals, relation- ships, and larger groups? Drawing together existing theory and research on affect and nonlinear dynamic systems, we propose that a key predictor of ²ourishing is the ratio of positive to negative affect. Over time, and in both private and social contexts, people experience a range of pleasant and unpleasant emo- tions and moods, and they express a variety of positive and negative evaluative sentiments or attitudes. We use affect to represent this spectrum of valenced feeling states and attitudes, with positive affect and positivit y interchangeably representing the pleasant end (e.g., feeling grateful, upbeat; expressing appreciation, liking) and negative affect and negativity representing the unpleasant end (e.g., feeling contemptuous, irritable; expressing disdain, disliking). The affective texture of a person’s life—or of a given relation- ship or group—can be represented by its positivity ratio , the ratio of pleasant feelings and sentiments to unpleasant ones over time. Past research has shown that for individu-
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This note was uploaded on 12/02/2010 for the course PSYCH PSY BEH P2 taught by Professor Susanturkcharles during the Fall '10 term at UC Irvine.

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Week 5 optional Fred - Positive Affect and the Complex Dynamics of Human Flourishing Barbara L Fredrickson Marcial F Losada University of Michigan

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