Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 937–958 | Cite as

Savoring with Intent: Investigating Types of and Motives for Responses to Positive Events

  • Amy L. GentzlerEmail author
  • Cara A. Palmer
  • Meagan A. Ramsey


To contribute to a growing literature on positive affect (PA) regulation, we report on two studies investigating college students’ responses to hypothetical positive events using a new measure, the Positive Events and Responses Survey (PEARS). The PEARS includes various responses, including savoring (up-regulating PA) and dampening strategies (down-regulating PA), and novel responses (e.g., mass-sharing using Facebook). We examined its convergent and concurrent validity, its relationship with the value of happiness, and motives underlying savoring. Factor analyses supported a 3-factor model: natural savoring (e.g., expressing PA), intentional savoring (e.g., reflecting on the self), and dampening (e.g., minimizing the event). Both natural and intentional savoring were linked to other savoring behaviors, but only natural savoring was linked to perceived savoring ability and (in some bivariate results) to well-being. In contrast, dampening was consistently linked to less savoring and more dampening on other measures, lower well-being, and more depressive symptoms. People reporting valuing happiness more reported higher likelihood of all three types of responses. Qualitative data provided partial support for the hypothesis that intentional savoring strategies are more often used for instrumental reasons (e.g., boosting self-esteem), whereas natural savoring responses may sometimes be more automatic or stem from feeling PA. These studies validate a new measure and suggest that reasons underlying people’s savoring matter.


Positive events Emotions Savor Dampen Depression Well-being Valuing happiness 


  1. Bryant, F. B. (1989). A four-factor model of perceived control: Avoiding, coping, obtaining, and savoring. Journal of Personality, 57, 773–797.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bryant, F. B. (2003). Savoring beliefs inventory (SBI): A scale for measuring beliefs about savouring. Journal of Mental Health, 12, 175–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bryant, F. B., & Veroff, J. (2007). Savoring: A new model of positive experience. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc.Google Scholar
  4. Bryant, F. B., Chadwick, E. D., & Kluwe, K. (2011). Understanding the processes that regulate positive emotional experience: Unsolved problems and future directions for theory and research on savoring. International Journal of Wellbeing, 1(1), 107–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bryant, F. B., Smart, C. M., & King, S. P. (2005). Using the past to enhance the present: Boosting happiness through positive reminiscence. Journal of Happiness Studies, 6, 227–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Derlega, V. J., Anderson, S., Winstead, B. A., & Greene, K. (2011). Positive disclosure among college students: What do they talk about, to whom, and why? The Journal of Positive Psychology, 6(2), 119–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. DeWall, C., Twenge, J. M., Koole, S. L., Baumeister, R. F., Marquez, A., & Reid, M. W. (2011). Automatic emotion regulation after social exclusion: Turning to positive. Emotion, 11(3), 623–636.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsem, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49(1), 71–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Feldman, G. C., Joormann, J., & Johnson, S. L. (2008). Responses to positive affect: A self-report measure of rumination and dampening. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 32, 507–525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fischer, A. H., Manstead, A. S. R., Evers, C., Timmers, M., & Valk, G. (2004). Motives and norms underlying emotion regulation. In P. Philippot & R. S. Feldman (Eds.), The regulation of emotion (pp. 187–210). Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.Google Scholar
  11. Ford, B. Q., Shallcross, A. J., Mauss, I. B., Floerke, V. A., & Gruber, J. (2014). Desperately seeking happiness: Valuing happiness is associated with symptoms and diagnosis of depression. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 33(10), 890–905.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Frankl, V. (1966). Self-transcendence as a human phenomenon. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 6, 97–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fredrickson, B. L. (1998). What good are positive emotions? Review of General Psychology, 2(3), 300–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gable, S. L., Gonzaga, G. C., & Strachman, A. (2006). Will you be there for me when things go right? Supportive responses to positive event disclosures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91(5), 904–917.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gable, S. L., Reis, H. T., Impett, E. A., & Asher, E. R. (2004). What do you do when things go right? The intrapersonal and interpersonal benefits of sharing positive events. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87, 228–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gentzler, A. L., & Palmer, C. A. (2014). Positive events and responses survey—Youth version. Unpublished measure.Google Scholar
  17. Gentzler, A. L., Kerns, K. A., & Keener, E. (2010). Emotional reactions and regulatory responses to negative and positive events: Associations with attachment and gender. Motivation and Emotion, 34, 78–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gentzler, A. L., Morey, J. N., Palmer, C. A., & Yi, C. Y. (2013). Young adolescents’ responses to positive events: Associations with positive affect and adjustment. Journal of Early Adolescence, 33(5), 662–681.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gentzler, A. L., Oberhauser, A. M., Westerman, D., & Nadorff, D. (2011). College students’ use of electronic communication with parents: Links to loneliness, attachment, and relationship quality. CyberPsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 14(1–2), 71–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gross, J. J. (2015). Emotion regulation: Current status and future prospects. Psychological Inquiry, 26, 1–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gruber, J., Mauss, I. B., & Tamir, M. (2011). A dark side of happiness? How, when, and why happiness is not always good. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6, 222–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hoorens, V., Pandelaere, M., Oldersma, F., & Sedikides, C. (2012). The hubris hypothesis: You can self-enhance, but you’d better not show it. Journal of Personality, 80(5), 1237–1274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hurley, D. B., & Kwon, P. (2011). Results of a study to increase savoring the moment: Differential impact on positive and negative outcomes. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13(4), 579–588.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Jolliffe, I. T. (1986). Principal component analysis. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Jose, P. E., Lim, B. T., & Bryant, F. B. (2012). Does savoring increase happiness? A daily diary study. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 7(3), 176–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kim, J., & Lee, J. E. R. (2011). The Facebook paths to happiness: Effects of the number of Facebook friends and self-presentation on subjective well-being. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 14(6), 359–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Koole, S. L. (2009). The psychology of emotion regulation: An integrative review. Cognition and Emotion, 23(1), 4–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kross, E., Verduyn, P., Demiralp, E., Park, J., Lee, D. S., Lin, N., et al. (2013). Facebook use predicts declines in subjective well-being in young adults. PLoS One, 8(8), e69841.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lambert, N. M., Gwinn, A. M., Baumeister, R. F., Strachman, A., Washburn, I. J., Gable, S. L., & Fincham, F. D. (2012). A boost of positive affect: The perks of sharing positive experiences. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 30(1), 24–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Langston, C. A. (1994). Capitalizing on and coping with daily-life events: Expressive responses to positive events. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 1112–1125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Livingstone, K. M., & Srivastava, S. (2012). Up-regulating positive emotions in everyday life: Strategies, individual differences, and associations with positive emotion and well-being. Journal of Research in Personality, 46(5), 504–516.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lyubomirsky, S., & Lepper, H. S. (1999). A measure of subjective happiness: Preliminary reliability and construct validation. Social Indicators Research, 46, 137–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Mauss, I. B., Savino, N. S., Anderson, C. L., Weisbuch, M., Tamir, M., & Laudenslager, M. L. (2012). The pursuit of happiness can be lonely. Emotion, 11, 807–815.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Mauss, I. B., & Tamir, M. (2014). Emotion goals: How their content, structure, and operation shape emotion regulation. In J. J. Gross (Ed.), Handbook of emotion regulation (2nd ed., pp. 361–375). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  35. Mauss, I. B., Tamir, M., Anderson, C. L., & Savino, N. S. (2011). Can seeking happiness make people unhappy? Paradoxical effects of valuing happiness. Emotion, 11, 807–815.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Miller, L. C., Cooke, L., Tsang, J., & Morgan, F. (1992). Should I brag? Nature and impact of positive and boastful disclosures for women and men. Human Communication Research, 18(3), 364–399.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Nelis, D., Quoidbach, J., Hansenne, M., & Mikolajczak, M. (2011). Measuring individual differences in emotion regulation: The emotion regulation profile-revised (ERP-R). Psychologica Belgica, 51(1), 49–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Quoidbach, J., Berry, E. V., Hansenne, M., & Mikolajczak, M. (2010a). Positive emotion regulation and well-being: Comparing the impact of eight savoring and dampening strategies. Personality and Individual Differences, 49, 368–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Quoidbach, J., Dunn, E. W., Petrides, K. V., & Mikolajczak, M. (2010b). Money giveth, money taketh away: The dual effect of wealth on happiness. Psychological Science, 21(6), 759–763.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Radloff, L. S. (1977). The CES-D Scale: A self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Applied Psychological Measurement, 1, 385–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Raes, F., Smets, J., Nelis, S., & Schoofs, H. (2012). Dampening of positive affect prospectively predicts depressive symptoms in a non-clinical sample. Cognition and Emotion, 26, 75–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Ramsey, M. A., & Gentzler, A. L. (2014). Age differences in well-being across adulthood: The roles of savoring and future time perspective. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 78(1), 3–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Reis, H. T., Smith, S. M., Carmichael, C. L., Caprariello, P. A., Tsai, F., Rodrigues, A., & Maniaci, M. R. (2010). Are you happy for me? How sharing positive events with others provides personal and interpersonal benefits. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99, 311–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rimé, B. (2007). Interpersonal emotion regulation. In J. J. Gross (Ed.), Handbook of emotion regulation (pp. 466–485). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  45. Schooler, J. W., Ariely, D., & Lowenstein, G. (2003). The pursuit and monitoring of happiness can be self-defeating. In J. Carrillo & I. Brocas (Eds.), Psychology and economics (pp. 41–70). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Seligman, M. E., Abramson, L. Y., Semmel, A., & von Baeyer, C. (1979). Depressive attributional style. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 88(3), 242–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Seltzer, L. J., Prosoki, A. R., Ziegler, T. E., & Pollak, S. D. (2012). Instant messages vs. speech: Hormones and why we still need to hear each other. Evolution and Human Behavior, 33(1), 42–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Snyder, S. A., Heller, S. M., Lumian, D. S., & McRae, K. (2013). Regulation of positive and negative emotion: Effects of sociocultural context. Frontiers in Psychology, 4, 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Tamir, M. (2009). What do people want to do and why? Pleasure and utility in emotion regulation. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18(2), 101–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Tkach, C., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2006). How do people pursue happiness? Relating personality, happiness-increasing strategies, and well-being. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 183–225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Tsai, J. L. (2007). Ideal affect: Cultural causes and behavioral consequences. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2(3), 242–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Tugade, M. M., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2007). Regulation of positive emotions: Emotion regulation strategies that promote resilience. Journal of Happiness Studies, 8, 311–333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Van Dam, N. T., & Earleywine, M. (2011). Validation of the center for epidemiologic studies depression scale—revised (CESD-R): Pragmatic depression assessment in the general population. Psychiatry Research, 186(1), 128–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Van Kleef, G. A. (2009). How emotions regulate social life: The emotions as social information (EASI) model. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18(3), 184–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Wood, J. V., Heimpel, S. A., & Michela, J. L. (2003). Savoring versus dampening: Self-esteem differences in regulation positive affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 566–580.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Wood, J. V., Heimpel, S. A., Newby-Clark, I. R., & Ross, M. (2005). Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory: Self-esteem differences in the experience and anticipation of success. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89(5), 764–780.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amy L. Gentzler
    • 1
    Email author
  • Cara A. Palmer
    • 1
  • Meagan A. Ramsey
    • 1
  1. 1.West Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA

Personalised recommendations