Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 875–892 | Cite as

Examining the Intensity and Frequency of Experience of Discrete Positive Emotions

  • P. Alex LinleyEmail author
  • Helen Dovey
  • Sarah Beaumont
  • Joy Wilkinson
  • Robert Hurling
Research Paper


Research into positive emotions has grown significantly over the last decade. This has focused typically on aggregate positive emotions, despite increasing evidence for differential outcomes from discrete positive emotions. We examined the intensity and frequency of experience of 50 discrete positive emotions in a sample of 500 participants. Results showed that the most frequently experienced positive emotions were Interested, Curious, Friendly, Amused and Positive. The most intensely experienced positive emotions were Happy, Optimistic, Friendly, Interested and Determined. Women scored higher than men on the frequency of experience of 12 positive emotions; men scored higher for Ecstatic only. Women scored higher than men on the intensity of experience of 6 positive emotions, whereas men scored higher on the intensity of experience of three positive emotions. Analyses with age showed findings broadly consistent with the U-curve of life satisfaction across the life span. The discussion focuses on how these data can inform and support future positive emotions research, and the importance of considering discrete positive emotions.


Positive emotions Frequency Intensity Gender differences Age differences 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Alex Linley
    • 1
    Email author
  • Helen Dovey
    • 1
  • Sarah Beaumont
    • 1
  • Joy Wilkinson
    • 2
  • Robert Hurling
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre of Applied Positive PsychologyUniversity of Warwick Science ParkCoventryUK
  2. 2.Unilever DiscoverColworthUK

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