Attuned to the positive? Awareness and responsiveness to others’ positive emotion experience and display
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- Campos, B., Schoebi, D., Gonzaga, G.C. et al. Motiv Emot (2015) 39: 780. doi:10.1007/s11031-015-9494-x
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Positive emotions are implicated in affiliation and cooperation processes that are central to human social life. For this reason, we hypothesized that people should be highly aware of and responsive to the positive emotions of others. Study 1 examined awareness by testing the accuracy with which perceivers tracked others’ positive emotions. Study 2 examined responsiveness by testing whether positive emotions were predictive of perceivers responding to new relationship opportunity. In Study 1, multilevel analyses of dating couples’ estimates of their partner’s emotions across four semi-structured interactions revealed that both women and men tracked partner positive emotions with considerable accuracy. Additional analyses indicated that tracking accuracy was most pronounced for positive emotions whose display is known to include the Duchenne smile. In Study 2, multilevel analyses of dyads who watched a set of positive and negative emotion-eliciting film clips with a stranger indicated that only positive emotion display predicted subsequent closeness. Together, these findings show that people are highly attuned to the positive emotions of others and can be more attuned to others’ positive emotions than negative emotions.