Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 16, Issue 6, pp 1365–1381 | Cite as

Can Passion be Polyamorous? The Impact of Having Multiple Passions on Subjective Well-Being and Momentary Emotions

  • Benjamin J. I. SchellenbergEmail author
  • Daniel S. Bailis
Research Paper


Having a harmonious passion (HP) can contribute to overall subjective well-being (Philippe et al. in Appl Psychol Health Well Being 1:3–22, 2009). We examined if people who had two passions in life reported even higher levels of well-being, and tested if these relationships depended on the extent to which the passions were harmonious or obsessive (OP). Undergraduates (N = 1,218) completed measures of HP and OP for their favorite and second favorite activities, along with assessments of well-being. In a follow-up study, a subsample of students (N = 62) who reported having an HP for one activity but an OP for another participated in an experiment in which we measured momentary emotions after priming either their HP, OP or a control activity. We found that students with at least one HP reported higher levels of well-being compared to those without an HP, and those with two HPs reported higher levels of well-being compared to those with only one HP, independent of the total time spent in passionate activities. In the follow-up study, participants’ levels of momentary positive and negative affect depended on whether their HP or OP was primed. These results suggest that, rather than introducing conflict or dividing a fixed sum of activity-related potential, having two HPs creates novel opportunities for subjective well-being.


Harmonious passion Obsessive passion Psychological well-being Dualistic model of passion Happiness 



This research was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. We thank Kelly Carpick for her help running the experimental sessions for the follow-up study.


  1. Adelmann, P. K. (1994). Multiple roles and psychological well-being in a national sample of older adults. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 49, S277–S285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Amiot, C. E., Vallerand, R. J., & Blanchard, C. M. (2006). Passion and psychological adjustment: A test of the person-environment fit hypothesis. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, 220–229. doi: 10.1177/0146167205280250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aron, A., Lewandowski, G. W, Jr, Mashek, D., & Aron, E. N. (2013). The self-expansion model of motivation and cognition in close relationships. In J. A. Simpson & L. Campbell (Eds.), The oxford handbook of close relationships (pp. 90–115). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bélanger, J. J., Lafrenière, M. K., Vallerand, R. J., & Kruglanski, A. W. (2013). When passion makes the heart grow colder: The role of passion in alternative goal suppression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104, 126–147. doi: 10.1037/a0029679.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bostic, T. J., Rubio, D. M., & Hood, M. (2000). A validation of the subjective vitality scale using structural equation modeling. Social Indicators Research, 52, 313–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Carpentier, J., Mageau, G. A., & Vallerand, R. J. (2011). Ruminations and flow: Why do people with a more harmonious passion experience higher well-being? Journal of Happiness Studies, 13, 501–518. doi: 10.1007/s10902-011-9276-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioural sciences. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  8. Crawford, J. R., & Henry, J. D. (2004). The Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS): Construct validity, measurement properties and normative data in a large non-clinical sample. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 43, 245–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The “what” and “why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11, 227–268. doi: 10.1207/S15327965PLI1104_01.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2006). Hedonia, eudaimonia, and well-being: An introduction. Journal of Happiness Studies, 9, 1–11. doi: 10.1007/s10902-006-9018-1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The Satisfaction with Life Scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 71–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Diener, E., Suh, E. M., Lucas, R. E., & Smith, H. L. (1999). Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 276–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dweck, C. S., Chiu, C., & Hong, Y. (1995). Implicit theories and their role in judgments and reactions: A world from two perspectives. Psychological Inquiry, 6, 267–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Forest, J., Mageau, G. A., Sarrazin, C., & Morin, E. M. (2010). “Work is my passion”: The different affective, behavioural, and cognitive consequences of harmonious and obsessive passion toward work. Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences., 28, 27–40. doi: 10.1002/CJAS.170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hochberg, Y. (1988). A sharper Bonferroni procedure for multiple tests of significance. Biometrika, 75, 800–802.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hodgins, H. S., & Knee, C. R. (2002). The integrating self and conscious experience. In E. L. Deci & R. M. Ryan (Eds.), Handbook of self-determination theory research (pp. 87–100). Rochester, NY: The University of Rochester Press.Google Scholar
  17. Keyes, C. L., Shmotkin, D., & Ryff, C. D. (2002). Optimizing well-being: The empirical encounter of two traditions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 1007–1022. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.82.6.1007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K. M., & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology, 9, 111–131. doi: 10.1037/1089-2680.9.2.111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Mageau, G. A., Vallerand, R. J., Charest, J., Salvy, S., Lacaille, N., Bouffard, T., et al. (2009). On the development of harmonious and obsessive passion: The role of autonomy support, activity specialization, and identification with the activity. Journal of Personality, 77, 601–646. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.2009.00559.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Marsh, H. W., Vallerand, R. J., Lafrenière, M. K., Parker, P., Morin, A. J. S., Carbonneau, N., et al. (2013). Passion: Does one scale fit all? Construct validity of two-factor passion scale and psychometric invariance over different activities and languages. Psychological Assessment, 25, 796–809. doi: 10.1037/a0032573.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Maxwell, S. E., & Delaney, H. D. (2004). Designing experiments and analyzing data: A model comparison perspective. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  22. Miller, G. A., & Chapman, J. P. (2001). Misunderstanding analysis of covariance. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 110, 40–48. doi: 10.1037//0021-843X.110.1.40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Pavot, W., & Diener, E. (1993). Review of the Satisfaction with Life Scale. Psychological Assessment, 5, 164–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Philippe, F. L., Vallerand, R. J., & Lavigne, G. L. (2009). Passion does make a difference in people’s lives: A look at well-being in passionate and non-passionate individuals. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 1, 3–22. doi: 10.1111/j.1758-0854.2008.01003.x.Google Scholar
  25. Ryan, R. M., & Frederick, C. (1997). On energy, personality, and health: Subjective vitality as a dynamic reflection of well-being. Journal of Personality, 65, 529–565.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ryff, C. D., & Keyes, C. L. M. (1995). The structure of psychological well-being revisited. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 719–727.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Schellenberg, B. J. I., Bailis, D. S., & Crocker, P. R. E. (2013). Passionate hockey fans: Appraisals of, coping with, and attention paid to the 2012-2013 National Hockey League lockout. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 14, 842–846. doi: 10.1016/j.psychsport.2013.06.004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Stoeber, J., Harvey, M., Ward, J. A., & Childs, J. H. (2011). Passion, craving, and affect in online gaming: Predicting how gamers feel when playing and when prevented from playing. Personality and Individual Differences, 51, 991–995. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2011.08.006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Vallerand, R. J. (1997). Toward a hierarchical model of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (pp. 217–360). New York, NY: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  30. Vallerand, R. J. (2010). On passion for life activities: The dualistic model of passion. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (pp. 97–193). New York, NY: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  31. Vallerand, R. J. (2012). The role of passion in sustainable psychological well-being. Psychology of Well-Being: Theory, Research, and Practice, 2, 1–21. doi: 10.1186/2211-1522-2-1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Vallerand, R. J., Blanchard, C. M., Mageau, G. A., Koestner, R., Ratelle, C., Léonard, M., et al. (2003). Les passions de l’ame: On obsessive and harmonious passion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 756–767.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Vallerand, R. J., Paquet, Y., Philippe, F. L., & Charest, J. (2010). On the role of passion for work in burnout: A process model. Journal of Personality, 78, 289–312. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.2009.00616.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Vorauer, J. D., & Sasaki, S. J. (2012). The pitfalls of empathy as a default intergroup interaction strategy: Distinct effects of trying to empathize with a lower status outgroup member who does versus does not express distress. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48, 519–524. doi: 10.1016/j.jesp.2011.11.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Waterman, A. S., Schwartz, S. J., & Conti, R. (2008). The implications of two conceptions of happiness (hedonic enjoyment and eudaimonia) for the understanding of intrinsic motivation. Journal of Happiness Studies, 9, 41–79. doi: 10.1007/s10902-006-9020-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: The PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 1063–1070.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benjamin J. I. Schellenberg
    • 1
    Email author
  • Daniel S. Bailis
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada

Personalised recommendations