Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Barbara Fredrickson proposed a ‘broaden-and-build’ theory of positive emotions and observes that positive emotions—joy, interest, contentment and love— build personal resources.

These personal resources, ranging from physical and intellectual resources to social and psychological resources, ‘‘function as reserves that can be drawn on later to improve the odds of successful coping and survival.’’ In other words, positive emotions fuel psychological resilience.

Evidence suggests, then, that positive emotions may fuel individual differences in resilience. Noting that psychological resilience is an enduring personal resource, the broaden-and-build theory makes the bolder prediction that experiences of positive emotions might also, over time, build psychological resilience, not just reflect it.

That is, to the extent that positive emotions broaden the scopes of attention and cognition, enabling flexible and creative thinking, they should also augment people’s enduring coping resources.

‘‘The personal resources accrued during states of positive emotions are durable, (outlasting) the transient emotional states that led to their acquisition,’’ and that ‘‘through experiences of positive emotions . . .people transform themselves, becoming more creative, knowledgeable, resilient, socially integrated and healthy individuals.’’

Gu, Q. & Day, C. (2007). Teachers resilience: A necessary condition for effectiveness.
Teaching and Teacher Education 23, 1302–1316.

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