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Institute 2002 Long Research Summaries


Patricia Bruininks Summary: The Differences between High and Low Hopefuls

Unlike other positive emotions, hope often occurs as the result of a negative situation in which an individual desires a positive resolution [1]. My current research examines how an individual's level of hope is affected by positive and negative information throughout an event. I am also interested in how individual differences in hopefulness affect how different types of information are processed.

In a recent study, participants read vignettes that began with either an uncertain or negative situation. This was followed by 3 sets of positive and negative information, with each set containing 3 pieces of information. After each piece of positive or negative information, participants were asked to state how hopeful, fearful, optimistic, and worried they were regarding the designated outcome. Thus, they self-reported their emotional states a total of 10 times. In addition, participants completed individual difference measures of hopefulness [2] and optimism [3].

Preliminary findings revealed that hopefulness was higher overall in response to positive information than negative information. Interestingly, high hopefuls not only reported higher levels of hope, but their levels of hopefulness were less affected by both positive and negative information than low hopefuls. Also, hope was distinguished from optimism in that high and low hopeful people experienced fear and worry similarly, whereas low optimistic people experienced negative affect significantly more so than high optimistic people. Thus, it appears that unlike optimism, hopefulness is not related to distancing oneself from the negative information in a situation. How, then, do high hopeful people remain hopeful in the face of adversity?

One way to answer this question is by investigating the psychophysiological relationships of hope. In this study, participants respond to vignettes similar to the ones used in the previous study; however, these vignettes are presented on a computer screen while measuring physiology. One possible explanation may lie in whether or not there are differences in arousal levels between high hopefuls and low hopefuls before and throughout an event. I hypothesize that low hopefuls will have higher arousal levels than high hopefuls (as measured by electrodermal activity and electrocardiography), and that this may be due to differences in parasympathetic activation, sympathetic activation, or the combination of both. I am testing these alternative hypotheses by measuring participants' respiratory sinus arrhythmia (i.e., vagal tone). For example, I may find that low hopefuls exhibit less parasympathetic activation than high hopefuls, particularly when exposed to negative information. This finding would indicate that while both groups experience the same levels of sympathetic activation in response to negative information, it is the homeostatic mechanism of parasympathetic activation that drives high hopefuls to remain hopeful in the face of unpleasant information.

I also hypothesize that there will be a greater covariance between facial expression (as measured by electromyography) and self-reported hope for low hopefuls than high hopefuls. That is, I expect low hopefuls to show more positive facial expression (e.g., smiling) in response to positive information and more negative facial expression (e.g., frowning) in response to negative information than high hopefuls.


[1] Bruininks, P., & Malle, B. F. (2001). Positive affect towards the future: Hope and related psychological states. Manuscript submitted for publication.

[2] Bruininks, P. (2001). Measuring hopefulness. Manuscript in preparation.

[3] Scheier, M. F., Carver, C. S., & Bridges, M. W. (1994). Distinguishing optimism from neuroticism (and trait anxiety, self-mastery, and self-esteem): A reevaluation of the life orientation test. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 67, 1063-1078.

Bruininks, P. (2002). Defining and measuring hopefulness. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of Oregon.

Belinda Campos Summary: The Love of Humanity: Evidence for Prosocial Collective Emotion

In two studies, the authors provide initial evidence that Love of Humanity is a distinct emotional experience of love toward all people that is characterized by a sense of connection to others, feelings of kindness, trust and compassion and a desire to engage in benevolent actions towards others. In Study 1, participants wrote narrative accounts of love experiences in family, friend, romantic partner, and general humanity contexts. Narrative coding showed that Love of Humanity experience uniquely related to reports of connection toward all people, believing that people are inherently good and wanting to engage in kind, compassionate behavior towards others. In Study 2, a 46-item self-report scale was developed to measure the disposition to experience love toward family, friends, romantic partners and humanity. Initial analyses show that love of humanity subscale is reliable (8 = .81) and somewhat distinct from other love experiences (.23 < r > .40). In future research, we will (a) use the scale to examine the relationship between high dispositional Love of Humanity and different traits, values, and life outcomes and (b) examine how the disposition to experience love of humanity promotes more cooperative, compassionate interactions with unfamiliar others.


Davis, M. H. (1983). Measuring individual differences in empathy: Evidence for a multidimensional approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44, 113-126.

Ekman, P. (1992). Are there basic emotions? Psychological Review, 99(3) 550-553.

Fehr, B. & Russell, J. A. (1991). The concept of love viewed from a prototype perspective. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60(3), 425-438.

Web Links: http://www.fetzer.org/Programs/prog_science.htm

Anne Conway Summary: Do Experiences of Maternal Positive Affect Promote Early Childhood Strengths?

Little attention has been given to how interactions with an affectively positive parent predict the development of emotion regulation in the first three years of life. Yet this is a time of significant growth in emotion regulation abilities such as attentional capacities, which have been postulated to provide the foundation for emotion regulation development (Posner & Rothbart, 2001). Indeed, because of this period of rapid growth, affectively positive relational experiences may have a very powerful impact on the development of emotional strengths and the promotion of well-being.

Based on the Broaden and Build Theory of Positive Emotions (Fredrickson, 2001), it is possible that environmental experiences infused with positive affect may create safe and facilitating contexts for the development of emotional and psychological strengths early childhood. Specifically, I hypothesize that play interactions during infancy with an affectively positive parent predict emotion regulation and behavioral competence in the early preschool years. Furthermore, I propose that emotion regulation abilities mediate the relations between parental positive affect and competence in the first three years of life.

The purpose of this study is to test (1) whether maternal positive affect in mother-infant free play (7 months) predicted emotion regulation abilities (e.g., attention shifting, soothability) and optimal behavioral outcomes at 33 months, (2) whether emotion regulation abilities predicted optimal behavioral outcomes at 33 months, and (3) whether emotion regulation abilities mediated the relationship between expressed maternal positive affect at 7 months and optimal behavioral outcomes at 33 months.

One hundred and eighty-five infants and mothers were assessed at 7 and 33 months. At 7 months, mothers and infants visited our laboratory and infants were videotaped engaging in a 3-minute free-play interaction. Global ratings of maternal and infant behavior were rated on a 4-point scale (0=no/minimal positive affect to 3=high positive affect). Maternal positive affect consisted of smiling and laughing behaviors and positive vocalizations (.74).

To assess children's emotional regulation abilities, such as attention shifting (.77) and soothability (.85), caregivers completed the Toddler Behavior Assessment Questionnaire-Revised (Jones, Gartstein, Rothbart, & Chasman, 1999). Finally, caregivers used the Child Behavior Checklist 2/3 (Achenbach, 1992) to rate children's externalizing (.86) and internalizing behavior (.77) and the Infant Socioemotional Assessment Scale to rate behavioral compliance (.69) (Briggs-Gowan & Carter, 1998).

Results were that maternal positive affect during infant play predict children's emotion regulation ability two years later as assessed by attention shifting and soothability. Moreover, maternal positive affect predicted behavioral compliance and low levels of externalizing and internalizing behaviors. Finally, results indicated that emotion regulation abilities mediated the relations between maternal positive affect and behavioral outcomes at 33 months (e.g., compliance, internalizing, and externalizing behaviors).

These findings suggest that future research should investigate the relations between maternal positive affect, positive environmental experiences, and the development of strengths in the first three years of life. Indeed, one of the main goals of Positive Psychology is to investigate how to build individual strengths (Seligman, 2001). This is particularly important for early childhood because it is a time of accelerated growth. Therefore, future research should be conducted in the "Positive Psychology of Early Childhood" to investigate the correlates and predictors of early strengths.


Conway, A., McDonough, S., Clark, J., & Smith, A. (2001). Predictors of long-term cry reduction in infancy: The role of maternal positive affect. Poster presented at the Biennial Conference for the Society for Research in Child Development. Minneapolis, MN.

Fredrickson, B. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist: Special Issue, 56, 218-226.

Adam B. Cohen, Benjamin Tiede and Christopher Peterson Summary: Strengths and Virtues Among Parents of Cancer Patients.

How people develop strengths and virtues is of central interest to Positive Psychology. One important way is by rising to the occasion: through hardship, people may show or develop strengths and virtues that they didn't know they were capable of. In this study we measured, using the VIA Inventory of Strengths, strengths among 27 parents of cancer patients and among a control group of 562 people who filled out the VIA inventory of strengths online, with essentially the same demographic characteristics as cancer sample. Cancer parents were higher on self-regulation and teamwork, but lower on kindness, learning, spirituality, honesty, and gratitude. Cancer parents wrote essays about what they have learned through their child having cancer, and the coherence of such essays (suggesting that the parent has made sense of the experience) was related to higher levels of the following strengths: curiosity, mercy, social intelligence, playfulness, and gratitude. In cancer parents, higher levels of well-being were related to the following strengths: kindness, learning, spirituality, honesty, and gratitude. Future work will explore these issues following cancer parents over time to investigate the time-course of changes in strengths and virtues and we will also attempt to increase participation by shortening the VIA Inventory of Strengths.


http://www.positivepsychology.org/taxonomy.htm, A website explaining the classification of strengths.

http://www.positivepsychology.org/viastrengthsinventory.htm, A website that discusses the VIA Inventory of Strengths.

Peterson, C., & Seligman, (in preparation). The VIA classification of strengths. Cincinnati, OH: Values in Action Institute.

Katherine Dahlsgaard, Christopher Peterson, and Martin Seligman Summary: The VIA Inventory of Strengths: A New Measure of Character Strengths for Kids

The VIA Inventory of Strengths for Youth (VIA-Y) is a new face-valid self-report measure of character strengths for young people. The measure joins an adult version of the VIA and measures the presence of ubiquitously-valued strengths such as fairness (justice), kindness, spirituality (faith), and courage. The VIA-Y uses a three-point Likert scale to measure the degree to which children and adolescents endorse items reflecting the various strengths of character that comprise the VIA Classification of Strengths (Peterson & Seligman, in preparation).

Pilot data was presented for the VIA-Y for a sample of over three hundred middle school students. Seventh, eighth, and ninth graders completed the measure in class during a typical school day; after completing the measure, students were asked to examine a list of 23 strengths and their descriptions and nominate up to three that best characterized them. In addition, teachers who had known the students for at least one semester completed a nomination measure. They were given a list with descriptions of the strengths and were asked to nominate up to three which best characterized each student. Reliability of each of the scales for the 23 strengths measured was generally fair to good, alphas ranged from .54 to .83, with the exception of .31 for the Self-Regulation/Self-Control scale. Means ranged from 1.85 for the Love of Learning scale to a high of 2.44 for the Kindness scale.

The validity of the measure, with regard to what teachers indicated were the subjects most characteristic (or signature) strengths versus how the students actually scored, was also promising. T-tests were used to determine if students nominated for a particular strength tended to score significantly higher for that strength's scale score than students who were not nominated for that strength. Put another way: if teachers nominated certain students (or students nominated themselves) for strength X, were those students' scale scores on strength X significantly higher than all the students not nominated for strength X? The results of these analyses for teacher nominations and corresponding student scale scores are as follows: Significant differences between the two groups (nominated and not nominated) were found for the following eight strengths: Capacity to Love & be Loved [t(326) = -2.52, p < .05], Creativity/Ingenuity [t(326) = -2.69, p < .01], Critical Thinking & Judgment [t(326) = -2.18, p < .05], Industry/Perseverance [t(326) = -2.51, p < .05], Kindness/Generosity [t(326) = -2.03, p < .05], Leadership [t(326) = -2.94, p < .01], Love of Learning [t(326) = -3.12, p < .01], and Spirituality [t(326) = -2.70, p < .01]. The measure found gender and developmental differences among the sample: Girls tended to score higher than boys on strengths, and older subjects tended to score higher than younger ones.

Future research to further validate the measure will be conducted on a longitudinal sample of middle-school students.


Peterson, C., & Seligman, (in preparation). The VIA classification of strengths. Cincinnati, OH: Values in Action Institute.

For further information see:

Lisa M. Edwards Summary: An Investigation of Factors that Contribute to Subjective Well-Being in Latino Adolescents

Research traditionally has focused on the problems that Latino youth face, and little scholarly time and energy have been spent on exploring how these adolescents successfully navigate their development into adulthood. What personal characteristics play a role in Latino adolescents' satisfaction with life? How do Latino communities and families support their adolescents? What constructs that traditionally have been associated with positive outcomes in Caucasian adolescents also are related to well-being in Latino adolescents? Answers to these important questions can provide a deeper understanding of how Latino adolescents experience well-being, which can in turn perhaps teach us how to improve well-being for those who struggle to find it. Subjective well-being (SWB), as defined by Diener and colleagues (Diener, Suh, Lucas, & Smith, 1999), is composed of life satisfaction, the presence of positive affect, and the absence of negative affect. Because of its reliance on a subjective appraisal of life, subjective well-being is a useful construct to be investigated in the lives of individuals from minority cultures. The present study is proposed in order to expand our understanding of strengths and factors that contribute to subjective well-being in Latino adolescents.

Based on a thorough review of theory and research about Latino adolescents and culture, a model of subjective well-being was proposed. This model includes variables that are believed to relate to well-being in Latino adolescents, namely perceived family support, perceived social support, religiosity/spirituality, cultural variables (biculturalism), and cognitive variables (hope and optimism).

Preliminary results with 192 middle and high school Latino students suggest significant positive relationships between the variables of life satisfaction, perceived family support, hope, perceived support from friends, and religious faith in Latino adolescents. An additional 160 students will be solicited, and structural equation modeling (SEM) will be used to test the relationships among the variables proposed to contribute to subjective well-being. The model will be modified as appropriate.


Diener, E., Suh, E. M., Lucas, R., & Smith, H. (1999). Subjective well-being: Three decades of
progress. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 276-302.

For additional information about subjective well-being, please see Dr. Ed Diener's website at:

For additional information about the progress of this research project, please contact Lisa Edwards at: lisaedwa@aol.com.

Jennifer Emilia Eells: Writing and Relationships

In 1986 a landmark study by Pennebaker and Beall found that writing about one's personal trauma could lead to better physical health and emotional well-being. Since then, the same methods (i.e., writing for 15 minutes a day for four days) or similar methods have been used to replicate and generalize the findings. However, still unknown are the precise mechanisms that underlie the benefits associated with disclosive writing. This particular study was designed to gather preliminary data to explore the possible effects of writing on romantic relationships, as well as, what the effects would be of writing about one's close interpersonal relationships.

Participants in this pilot study were 47 undergraduate and graduate students (13 men, 34 women) who were involved in monogamous relationships of at least three months duration. Relationship length ranged from two months to seven years, with a mean of two years. Pre-test questionnaires measured subjective well-being (SWB), physical health, and relationship fitness. This was followed by a one-time 30 minute writing session in which one of three topics (e.g., a significant relationship; most traumatic life event; or plans for the day) were randomly assigned to each participant. Immediately after writing participants' emotional reactions to the writing were gauged. Two weeks later post-test questionnaires were completed, again measuring emotional, physical, and relationship wellness. Where permission was given, partners of participants were contacted with a very brief phone call interview.

Results show that the relationship topic was viewed as most important, valuable, and meaningful (F=6.4-15.0, all p's<.05). Positive affect immediately after writing was significantly higher for relationship topic than for trauma or control (F=5.6, p=.007). Trauma and relationship conditions reported less illness at Time 2, (F=3.5, p=.05) and their partners were most likely to report that the relationship was going well (F=4.6, p=.03). Condition also affected relationship fit. Mean negative affect at Time 2 was lowest for men in the relationship group (F=3.7, p=.04). Changing toward one's ideal self due to partner involvement was highest for men in trauma group (F=3.3, p=.05). Number of activities done together was highest for women writing about trauma (F=2.7, p=.08).

Future studies will explore why writing about trauma affects relationships, the mechanisms by which writing has health and well-being effects, the effects of writing about more narrowly defined relationship topics, and usefulness of different relationship outcome variables. These studies will also incorporate reaction time methodology, diary components using Rochester Interaction Records, intimacy motive coding on all narratives, and more longitudinal designs.

Gian C. Gonzaga Summary: Love and Commitment in Intimate Relationships

In maintaining long-term bonds romantic partners face the commitment problem; partners must remain committed to one another in the face of alternatives that might appeal to momentary self-interest but pose obvious threats to the relationship. Partners wrestle with the obvious costs and alluring benefits of infidelity. Likewise, everyday cohabitation presents regrettably ample tests of commitment: insensitive behaviors, mundane disagreements, and child rearing and financial difficulties are sources of great conflict between partners. My research tested the proposal that love enhances commitment, helping partners remain together in the face of temptation and conflict.

Specifically, the momentary experience and expression of love coordinate everyday interactions by communicating messages of commitment and trust between partners. Thus, I expected the momentary experience of love to motivate partners to maintain proximity, resolve conflict, and increase intimacy. Moreover, love should have a distinct phenomenological experience and be expressed by a distinct non-verbal signal.

A series of studies tested these ideas using laboratory, narrative, and physiological methodologies. The experience of love related to positive and approach-related emotions such as connection, happiness, desire, and sympathy. Love was communicated between partners via a distinct set of affiliation cues: Duchenne smiles, affirmative head nods, gesticulation, and leaning towards the partner. The experience and expression of love related to positive relationship processes such as sacrifice for the partner, constructive conflict resolution, shared activity, self-disclosure, and the formation of mutual future plans. Love also facilitated an individual's ability to suppress the thought of a romantic alternative. Finally, the expression of love related to the release of oxytocin, a mammalian hormone that has been shown to promote monogamy in humans and other species. Closely related emotions, such as desire, show quite different experiential, expressive, and behavioral correlates. These results suggest that love, and not other emotions, promotes commitment.

Future work will concentrate on two issues. First, I will continue to investigate how love affects social cognitive processes. I predict that the experience of love alters social cognitive processes in ways that help individuals remain committed to an intimate partner. For example, the experience of love should speed the time an individual takes to learn associations between positive events and their partner. Second, I will investigate the potential health benefits of the experience of love and the release of oxytocin. In addition to relating to the expression of love, oxytocin also reduces stress. I predict that love, via the release of oxytocin, will relate to reduced stress and improved health.


Fisher, H. (1992). Anatomy of Love. New York: Fawcett Columbine.

Frank, R. H. (1988). Passions within Reason: The Strategic Role of Emotion. New York: Norton.

Gonzaga, G. C., Keltner, D., Londahl, E. A., Smith, M. D. (2001). Love and the commitment problem in romantic relations and friendship. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81, 247-262.

Joshua Greene Summary: Emotion and Cognition in Moral Judgment

The longstanding rationalist tradition in moral psychology emphasizes the role of reason in moral judgment. A more recent trend emphasizes the importance of emotion and intuition. (See Haidt, 2001.) My research uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to observe the neural processes of moral judgment in real time and aims at a synthesis of these rationalist and emotivist approaches to moral psychology.

My experimental paradigm was inspired by reflections on a family of ethical dilemmas familiar to contemporary moral philosophers. (See Thomson, 1986.) One such dilemma is the "trolley dilemma": A runaway trolley is headed for five people who will be killed if it proceeds on its present course. The only way to save them is to flip a switch that will turn the trolley onto an alternate set of tracks where it will kill one person instead of five. Ought you turn the trolley in order to save five people at the expense of one? Most people say yes. Now consider a similar problem, the "footbridge dilemma": As before, a trolley threatens to kill five people. You are standing next to a large stranger on a footbridge spanning the tracks, in between the oncoming trolley and the five people. This time, the only way to save the five people is to push this stranger off the bridge and onto the tracks below. He will die if you do this, but his bulky body will stop the trolley from reaching the others. Ought you save the five others by pushing this stranger to his death? Most people say no.

Putting aside questions about whether these conclusions are correct, we might wonder how people manage to draw these conclusions so quickly and consistently. My research suggests that the solution to this psychological puzzle lies in the complex interplay between emotion and cognition. My collaborators and I argue that the "up close and personal" nature of the violation involved in the footbridge dilemma (pushing a man to his death with one's bare hands) elicits a strong emotional response that dominates the decision process and typically results in a judgment against that action. In contrast, the absence of such an emotional response to the trolley dilemma, with its less personal means of violation (redirecting a trolley by hitting a switch), tends to elicit a "drier," more characteristically "cognitive," cost-benefit analysis and, thus, an affirmative judgment. In support of this account, my collaborators and I have found that the contemplation of moral dilemmas involving "personal" violations such as the footbridge dilemma produces increased activity in brain regions associated with emotional response while the contemplation of dilemmas involving "impersonal" violations such as the trolley dilemma produces increased activity in brain areas associated with "cognitive" processing. (See Greene et al., 2001.)

Building on these results, the aim of my current research is to study further the subtle emotional and cognitive factors that influence people's moral judgments and their neural bases. In the future I look forward to conducting cross-cultural research; research using complementary methods such as electroencephalography; and research involving special populations such as autistics, psychopaths, and patients with brain damage.


Greene J. D., Sommerville R. B., Nystrom L. E., Darley J. M., and Cohen J. D. (2001), "An fMRI Investigation of Emotional Engagement in Moral Judgment" Science, 293 (5537), 2105-8.

Haidt, J. (2001), "The emotional dog and Its rational tail: A social intuitionist approach to moral judgment," Psychological Review, 108 (4), 814-834.

Thomson, J. J. (1986), Rights, Restitution and Risk. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 94-116.

See www.csbmb.princeton.edu/~jdgreene for more information.

Lene Arnett Jensen Summary: A Cultural-Developmental Approach to Moral Psychology

The aim of my presentation was to argue that the study of morality is central to positive psychology because the quest to make moral sense of experiences and the quest to be good are fundamental to the human condition. Furthermore, I aimed to start a conversation about two questions: 1) To what extent do we try to apply moral values universally? 2) What methods do we use in order to be sensitive to people's actual moral experiences? I presented my cultural-developmental approach to the study of moral psychology as well as four studies. These studies focused on: 1) Differences in moral conceptions between religiously liberal and conservative groups in India and the U.S. 2) Cultural and developmental patterns in morality in a study of children, adolescents, and adults who belong to diverse American religious cultures. 3) A diary study of the everyday moral experiences of American adults ages 18-27. 4) An interview study on the moral values of immigrant adolescents and parents from India and El Salvador.


Jensen, L. A. (under review) A cultural-developmental approach to moral psychology: Theoretical and methodological considerations. Jensen, L. A. (in press). Coming of age in a multicultural world: Adolescent cultural identity formation. Applied Developmental Science.

Jensen, L. A. (1998). Moral divisions within countries between orthodoxy and progressivism: India and the United States. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 37, 90-107.

Todd B. Kashdan Summary: Curiosity: Facilitating Personal Growth Opportunities

Although all human beings experience curiosity, individuals differ in their intensity and frequency of curiosity and their threshold and willingness to experience curiosity. The present series of studies involved the development and validation of a new measure of curiosity and an investigation of curiosity in intimacy-development. Based on a new theoretical model, curiosity was conceptualized as a positive emotional-motivational system associated with the recognition, pursuit, and self-regulation of novel and challenging opportunities. The personal growth facilitation model posits that pursuing and integrating novel, complex, and challenging experiences is the primary foundation for learning and expanding personal resources. The two components of curiosity posited by this model, appetitive exploration and flow-like task absorption, served as the basis for the trait and state Curiosity and Exploration Inventories.

Using five independent samples, reliability, convergent, divergent, and construct validity were documented. Results found the CEI to be largely unaffected by social desirability concerns. With positive affect controlled, the CEI retained significant positive relationships with appetitive motivational constructs. A social interaction experiment with 45 dyads randomly assigned to a 45-minute closeness-generating or small-talk condition indicated that both trait and state curiosity predicted feelings of intimacy between interaction partners. State curiosity demonstrated sensitivity to change. Results found high and low curious individuals to experience high levels of intimacy in the closeness-generating interaction. Yet, high curious individuals also experienced high levels of intimacy in the neutral, small-talk interaction. Thus, while low curious individuals were strongly affected by the context, high curious individuals appeared to pursue and attain positive interpersonal outcomes irrespective of their environment. The effects on intimacy-related outcomes were specific to curiosity, showing no relationship with the related construct of reward sensitivity (i.e., the Behavioral Activation System Scale). Relationships between curiosity and intimacy-related outcomes were mediated by two appetitive processes (1) recognizing and directing attention to positive features of interaction partners and the conversation (other-directed attention) and (2) self-generating interest and fun during the interaction (conversational involvement). These findings with the overarching theoretical framework.

Overall, curiosity appears to be related to a broad range of positive personal and interpersonal outcomes. Results of these studies provide support for the construct validity of the state and trait Curiosity and Exploration Inventories. Curiosity has relevance to all facets of human functioning. Future studies are planned to explore the influence of curiosity in domains ranging from creativity, aesthetic appreciation, and the development of interpersonal relationships to applications in educational, organizational, and clinical/health psychology.


Kashdan, T.B. (in press). Curiosity and interest. In C. Peterson, & M.E.P. Seligman, (Ed.), Values in Action (VIA) Classification of Strengths. Cincinnati, OH: Values in Action Institute.

Kashdan, T.B., & Roberts, J.E. (2002). Trait and state curiosity in the genesis of intimacy: Differentiation from related constructs. Manuscript submitted for review.

Kashdan, T.B., Rose, P., & Fincham, F.D. (2002). Curiosity and exploration: Facilitating positive subjective experiences and personal growth opportunities. Manuscript submitted for review.

Website to download trait and state versions of the Curiosity and Exploration Inventory: www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~kashdan

Joseph A. Mikels Summary: Positive Emotions and Affective Working Memory

Emotion regulation can be defined as processes by which we decrease, increase, or maintain our emotional experiences and expressions. Within psychology, most attention has been paid to processes that decrease negative emotions, virtually neglecting positive emotions and the other forms of emotion regulation, such as emotional maintenance. With respect to maintaining an emotion, a similar concept has recently been discussed in cognitive psychology, namely that of affective working memory, which can be described as a system that maintains a representation of emotion in the absence of the immediate elicitors. These constructs of affective working memory and emotional maintenance have not undergone extensive empirical testing. Inspired by working memory models and tasks, an emotional maintenance task was developed.

Data from this task indicates that people can maintain and compare negative emotional states, and that the behavioral patterns observed in such data are strikingly similar to those seen on an analog non-emotional working memory task. In contrast, it appears that people are less able to maintain and compare positive emotional states. It is possible that negative emotions are maintained or decreased, whereas positive emotions are intensified. In sum, very little work has addressed emotion regulation and positive emotions and future studies will need to investigate each way in which emotions, including positive emotions, might be regulated. There is still a great amount of work yet to do in understanding the processes involved in emotion regulation especially for positive emotions.


Fredrickson, B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist, 56, 218-226.

Fredrickson, B. L. (2000). Cultivating positive emotions to optimize health and well-being. Target article in Prevention and Treatment, 3. Available on the World Wide Web: http://journals.apa.org/prevention/


Positive Emotion and Psychophysiology Laboratory: http://www.umich.edu/~psycdept/emotions/

Cognitive and Affective Neuropsychology Laboratory: http://www.umich.edu/~psycdept/parllab/

Anthony Ong Summary: Toward a Measurement Model of Human Strengths

Compared with the study of psychopathology, the scientific study of positive psychological functioning is viewed as a burgeoning area of inquiry.[1] One impediment to the science of well-being has been the paucity of reliable and valid assessment tools. Without instruments that operationalize the characteristics of optimal functioning, it is impossible to probe their varieties, causes, and consequences. The two studies reported herein were designed to provide preliminary evidence bearing on the need for a measuring taxonomy of human strengths and well-being.

The broad objective is to develop a multi-dimensional model of well-being that represents points of convergence in many of the previously described theoretical formulations. Well-being is distinguished by studying Subjective Well-Being (SWB)[2] and Psychological Well-Being (PWB).[3] These theories provided conceptual starting points for developing assessment instruments. The concept of change is set apart by considering stable inter-individual differences and short-term intra-individual variability. Work on inter-individual differences involves efforts to define the meaning and structure of SWB and PWB across individuals. Using R-technique factor analysis a nomothetic covariation technique suitable for cross-sectional designs this research has culminated in a measurement model of well-being that encompass diverse features of what it means to be well, including having positive self regard, good-quality relationships with others, a sense that life is purposeful, the capacity to effectively manage one s environment, the ability to follow inner convictions, a sense of continuing growth, the experience of frequent pleasant emotions and infrequent unpleasant emotions, and a general sense of life satisfaction.

Because well-being is by definition a varying phenomenon, a second research focus centers on the temporally unfolding relations among variables within an individual, best captured by idiographic methods. Using P-technique factor analysis a covariation technique that is aimed directly at the investigation of change patterns designs that include multiple individuals, multiple variables, and multiple occasions of measurement coupled with methods that yield immediate reports from individuals in their natural environments, this work explores how selected questions about patterns of change in well-being can be examined at the individual level.

Finally, because comparing different groups using survey instruments raises the question of whether members of different groups ascribe the same meaning to survey items, a third research focus involves evaluating measurement equivalence. This work involves examining whether invariance of well-being measurement models obtains across different age cohorts, gender, and social classes and cultures. Together, the results of this program of research will sharpen the meaning and scope of existing criteria for defining well-being and point to other dimensions of human strengths that have been neglected in earlier studies.


Seligman, M. E., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55 (1), 5-14.

Diener, E. (1984). Subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 95, 542-575.

Ryff, C. D. (1989). Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 1069-1081.

Chiara Ruini Summary: Well-Being Therapy in Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

Well-being and quality of life have been neglected for a long time in medical settings, and health is equated with the absence of illness, rather than the presence of wellness. In clinical psychology, however, the role of well-being is very important in engendering a complete recovery from affective and anxiety disorders. The aims of this study were to apply a new psychotherapeutic strategy for improving psychological well-being (WBT) in patients with generalized anxiety disorder and to compare its efficacy against symptom oriented cognitive behavioral methods.

Twenty patients with GAD were enrolled in this study. They were randomly assigned to either 1) standard cognitive therapy (8 sessions) or 2) cognitive behavioral package including 4 sessions of CBT and 4 sessions of well-being therapy. Patients were assessed before and after treatment by the following instruments: Paykel's Clinical Interview for Depression (CID), Kellner's Symptom Questionnaire (SQ) and Ryff's Scales of Psychological Well-being. The results of this study showed that both treatments were significantly effective in reducing symptoms in patients with GAD. Well-being therapy, however, was also more effective in increasing the levels of well-being and therefore in improving patients' quality of life. Further research is needed to determine the advantage of CBT +WBT package also in the long-term outcome.


Rafanelli C., Park SK., Ruini C, Ottolini F., Cazzaro M., Fava GA: Rating well-being and distress. Stress Medicine 2000, 16: 55-61.

Fava GA, Ruini C. The sequential approach to relapse prevention in unipolar depression. World Psychiatry 2002, 1: 10-15

Fava GA, Rafanelli C., Ottolini F., Ruini C. et al. Psychological well-being and residual symptoms in remitted patients with panic disorder and agoraphobia. Journal of Affective Disorders 2001, 65: 185-190.

Shaifali Sandhya Summary: A Study of Indian Married Couples: The Role of Family Living Arrangements in Maintaining Happiness and Well-Being

The aim of this study was to investigate the nature of marital happiness and its impact on psychological well-being in 91, urban, Hindu, married couples from New Delhi, India. Using self-report measures and narrative interviews of husbands and wives, I focused on the nature and underlying mechanisms that regulate, maintain, and sustain marital happiness and psychological well-being. In particular, I examine the socio-cultural contexts as well as the interpersonal and personal factors that facilitate and impede happiness. I also explore the strategies couples use to resolve conflict, the positive and negative appraisals each partner makes of the other, the extent to which each partner's expectations of the other have been fulfilled, and the ways in which couples have had good times and positive experiences with one another. The appraisals that couples make of one another, the ways in which they resolve conflict, and the strategies they use for enjoying and relating to one another should be indicative of personal and interpersonal goals, positive and negative states of psychological well-being, and the ways in which personal desires and states of psychological well-being relate to the quality and longevity of a marital relationship.

To better understand the processes that mediate and produce happiness in Hindu married relationships, I assessed a factor that was predicted to affect all aspects of couples' marital relationship-family living arrangements and gender. Family living arrangements, personal relationships and networks are rich sources for studying emotional processes, they organize behaviors, cognitions, and the social interaction, socio-emotional, and life-span development. Family living arrangements also affect mental well-being of adults and adolescents. Indian couples allow an examination of the effect of this variable due to within-culture variation in family living arrangements- nuclear, extended, and those that have moved from extended to nuclear. Traditional studies have been of extended families; little is known about nuclear or extended-to-nuclear families. Traditional studies claim that marital intimacy is not essential to psychological well-being and marital happiness. In a culture that is undergoing more modernity in the last ten years than it has in the last 400 years (Maddison, 2001), marital interaction becomes more interesting.

The primary aim was to examine how family living arrangements affect happiness and intimacy of Indian married couples. The main approach was to ask each marital partner to evaluate the marriage and family context. Research questions then are: Are things going well or badly for Indian husbands and wives? Is marital happiness related to individual well-being? Do/ how do family living arrangements affect marital happiness? Ninety-one Indian couples from New Delhi were given self-reports (Locke-Wallace, 1959; Bradburn Affect, 1969; Conflict Tactic Scale, Disposition Appraisal Scale) and personal interviews. They were married 1-28 years and 33% of the wives worked in each family living arrangement. The couples were from the middle- and upper-middle class of New Delhi, India.

The impact of living arrangements could best be seen in four areas of the self-report measures: overall levels of marital happiness, mean levels of marital adjustment, as reported across six dimensions of the MAT, and the frequency with which spouses reported using constructive or destructive strategies to resolve conflict. Couples living in nuclear families reported significantly higher levels of happiness in comparison to couples living in extended families. Nuclear and extended to nuclear couples also reported higher degrees of marital adjustment as compared to couples living in extended families. Spouses in nuclear families were more in agreement with each other on their degree of happiness, in comparison to couples living in extended families. Spouses in extended families reported a higher use of both destructive and constructive conflict strategies in contrast to spouses from nuclear families, suggesting the possibility of more varied conflicts, resolutions, and make-ups in extended families. In contrast to couples in extended families, nuclear family couples reported using fewer constructive strategies but also reported the use of fewer destructive strategies with each other.

Information from the narrative interview revealed that family living arrangements were significantly related to five aspects conflict resolution: the topics of conflict, the importance spouses attributed to resolving their conflicts, the extent to which third parties got involved, the outcome of the conflict, and the frequency of negative spousal appraisals made by husbands and wives.

In summary, Indian couples demonstrated high levels of happiness and psychological well-being. In addition, marital happiness was related to psychological well-being, intimacy, conflict negotiation, and their appraisals of each other. Family living arrangements and gender affected marital interaction, levels of depression and happiness.

Lani Shiota Summary: A new perspective on trait positive emotionality: differences among eleven positive affects?

The field of emotion psychology is full of questions and controversy, with many theoretical approaches, yet few points of consensus. Much of this conflict stems from the disparity between the complexities of our emotional experience and the limitations of the empirical methods and measures that have been available for emotion research. The gap between what we know to be true as emotional beings and the assumptions behind our empirical work is particularly wide in the area of positive emotion. Although many major emotion theorists posit the existence of multiple discrete positive affect states, much empirical research on the nature and consequences of emotion considers only one: happiness. Personality approaches to affect also tend to emphasize the positive-negative or approach-avoidance dimension, and the instrument most commonly used to measure trait positive affect does not differentiate among multiple types of positive emotion.

I present a brief description of eleven positive emotions (joy, contentment, hope, love, desire, compassion, pride, gratitude, amusement, interest, and awe). I then define the "affective traits" corresponding to each emotion. In addition to a brief summary of the theory and empirical evidence regarding each emotion, descriptions include the appraisal tendencies, emotion experience and labeling, and behavior tendencies that should be associated with each affective trait. I then present evidence regarding a new, 75-item, self-report measure of these affective traits - the "Dispositional Positive Affect Scale (DPAS)."

Correlations between items within each of the eleven emotion scales confirm the validity of the emotion constructs themselves - relationships between appraisal themes, emotion experience, and behavioral outcomes. Patterns of correlation between participants' scores on the emotion scales and demographic variables (such as gender, ethnicity, political affiliation, monogamous relationship status, and GPA), as well as other personality variables (such as extroversion, affiliativeness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience) document the theoretically expected differences between the eleven emotions.

In upcoming research I plan to study the relationships between trait positive emotion and personal coping styles in the face of stress. In one study, I will examine whether trait affective style, as measured by the DPAS, predicts the type of images people choose to look at (such as nature views vs. comic strips vs. pictures of friends and family) when they are experiencing stress. In a follow-up study, I will examine the degree to which such "matching" between personal emotion style and available coping strategies (such as a poster of a nature view vs. comic image vs. small animals in the testing room) helps to alleviate participants' physiological responses to stress. This work has important implications both for the understanding of individual coping styles and for emotion theory in general.


Shiota, M.N., Campos, B., Keltner, D., & Hertenstein, M.J. (in press). Positive Emotion and the Regulation of Interpersonal Relationships. In P. Philippot & R.S. Feldman (Eds.), The Regulation of Emotion. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Fredrickson, B. L. (1998). What good are positive emotions? Review of General Psychology, 2(3), 300-319.

Ekman, P. (1994). All emotions are basic. In P. Ekman & R. J. Davidson (Eds.), The Nature of Emotion: Fundamental Questions (pp. 15-19). New York: Oxford University Press.

Todd M. Thrash Summary: The State of Inspiration

The topic of inspiration has received a great deal of attention in fields such as theology and art, and bookstores are full of self-help books that promise inspiration to those who need it. But despite all that has been written about inspiration, psychological research on the topic has been sporadic and unintegrated. In an effort to help establish inspiration as a psychological construct, Thrash and Elliot (in press) presented a conceptualization of inspiration in terms of three core characteristics: evocation, motivation, and transcendence. A series of empirical studies validated a trait measure of inspiration and demonstrated the importance of the construct in a number of ways (e.g., trait inspiration relates to the holding of U.S. patents, and demonstrates incremental validity in predicting positive outcomes such as perceived competence, work-mastery motivation, and creativity). The Thrash and Elliot (in press) research focused primarily on trait inspiration, and thus additional research is needed on the state of inspiration. The present research aimed to document the core characteristics of inspiration (evocation, motivation, and transcendence) at the state level.

In Study 1, participants wrote about an experience of inspiration in their own lives and completed state measures regarding the experience. As a baseline condition, participants also completed the state measures with respect to a typical experience in their lives. Results revealed that inspiration involves elevated levels of most positive state variables (e.g., positive affect, meaning) and modestly lower levels of most negative state variables (e.g., negative affect, anxiety). In order to provide a more differentiated profile of state inspiration, Study 2 employed the same methodology but contrasted inspiration with another positive motivational state: positive affect. As expected, inspiration and positive affect demonstrated comparable levels of motivation-relevant variables (e.g., interest, task-involvement, and goal clarity); inspiration was more likely to be evoked (e.g., lower responsibility appraisals and perceptions of control, and higher levels of openness to experience); and inspiration involved higher levels of transcendence-relevant variables (e.g., insight, meaning, and spirituality).

Whereas most positive motivational constructs are conceptualized as internally or volitionally generated, inspiration illustrates that the heights of human motivation are often due to factors outside the self or beyond our control -- for instance, the elevating effect of witnessing virtue (Haidt, in press), or the creative impulse that arises as if a gift of a Muse.

Having completed most of my validational research on inspiration, my future research will focus on questions such as the following: What basic psychological processes and systems are involved in various forms of inspiration? How may inspiration be facilitated? How might inspiration contribute to performance, well-being, and a meaningful life?


Haidt, J. (in press). Elevation and the positive psychology of morality. In C. L. Keyes & J. Haidt (Eds.), Flourishing: The positive person and the good life. Washington, D.C.: APA.

Hart, T. (1998). Inspiration: Exploring the experience and its meaning. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 38, 7-35.

Lockwood, P., & Kunda, Z. (1997). Superstars and me: Predicting the impact of role models on the self. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 91-103.

Thrash, T. M., & Elliot, A. J. (in press). Inspiration as a psychological construct. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Manfred van Dulmen Summary: The Developmental Course of the Relationship between Childhood Positive Affect and Romantic Relationship Functioning During Young Adulthood

Developmental psychologists have primarily focused on investigating the antecedents of positive affect in children and adolescents. This, despite the fact that there is a large body of evidence suggesting that adults with high positive affectivity are more sociable than adults with low positive affectivity and there is some evidence, although mostly cross-sectional, that childhood positive affect relates to the development of social relationships outside of the family (Isley, O'Neil, Clatfelter, & Parke, 1999; Sroufe, Schork, Motti, Lawroski, & LaFreniere, 1984). The aim of the proposed research program was to study the relationship between positive affect and social competence from childhood into young adulthood, and to focus specifically on the consequences of positive affect during childhood for romantic relationship functioning during young adulthood.

Data from this research program came from a longitudinal study of children and families at developmental risk due to poverty (Egeland & Brunnquell, 1979). The participants in this study were seen at 25 different time-points over a 23-year time period. Several sets of structural equation models were employed to investigate the relationship among positive affect during childhood, emotional health during childhood, positive affect during adolescence, psychopathology during adolescence, and relationship enjoyment during young adulthood. To investigate whether positive affect as a construct could account for more variance than negative affect, a comparison model was investigated including negative affect.
Results showed that the SEM model explained 38% of the variance in romantic relationship positive affect at age 21 and 41% of the variance in romantic relationship enjoyment at age 23. Positive affect during childhood significantly predicted relationship outcomes at age 21 and age 23. The model including positive affect explained the data better than a similar model that included a construct of negative affect during elementary school.

The results of this study underscore the importance of examining early childhood positive affect as a predictor of positive affect expressed in romantic relationships during young adulthood, especially how it is compared to examining negative affect. Future research will expand this current project by refining the conceptual model and trying to investigate the relationship between positive affect and social competence outside of romantic relationships.


Egeland, B., & Brunnquell, D. (1979). An at-risk approach to the study of child abuse: Some preliminary findings. Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 18, 219-225.

Isley, S. L., O'Neil, R., Clatfelter, D., & Parke, R. D. (1999). Parent and child expressed affect and children's social competence: Modeling direct and indirect pathways. Developmental Psychology, 35(2), 547-560.

Sroufe, L. A., Schork, E., Motti, F., Lawroski, N., & LaFreniere, P. (1984). The role of affect in social competence. In C. Izard, J. Kagan, & R. Zajonc (Eds.), Emotions, cognitions, and behavior (pp. 289 - 318). New York: Cambridge University Press.

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