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.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
The assumption of homogeneity of variances was violated in the analysis of positive affect [Levene’s F (5, 1,212) = 2.86, p = .014]. However, robust tests yielded a significant omnibus effect [Welch’s F (5, 546.89) = 22.90, p < .001]. Given this assumption violation and the unequal group sizes, and to be consistent across all comparisons, we analyzed all pairwise comparisons and computed effect sizes (i.e., Cohen’s d) assuming unequal group variances.
We tested if the effect of the passion groups on levels of well-being interacted with the participants’ reported sex, age, or ethnicity. Given that most participants identified as having a White/European ethnic background (58.90 %), ethnicity was treated as a dichotomous variable in our analyses in which participants were coded as identifying as being White/European or not White/European. Age was also coded as a dichotomous variable whereby participants were categorised as being 18 years of age or younger (57.70 %) or over 18 years of age (42.30 %). We found that passion groups did not interact with age or ethnicity when predicting any of the well-being measures. There was, however, an interaction between passion groups and sex when predicting subjective vitality, F (5, 1,211) = 2.782, p = .017, η 2p = .012. Although this effect was small, we further examined this interaction by conducting interaction contrasts to test if the pattern of pairwise differences between passion groups, along with the complex contrast (i.e., at least one HP versus no HP), differed between males and females. Results of these interaction contrasts, while controlling family-wise error rate using Hochberg’s step-up Bonferroni procedure, did not yield any significant effects. We therefore failed to find evidence that the comparisons displayed in Table 2 differed between male and female participants.
In analyses examining time, 250 participants either did not report how many hours per week they spent engaging in their passions, or did not provide an answer that was quantifiable (e.g., “a few”). These participants were not included in analyses involving time (total n = 968).
For this analysis, only those who qualified as being passionate for both activities were included (n = 654).
These results remained unchanged when demographic variables (i.e., sex, age, and ethnicity) were added as predictors in the regression analysis.
Participants who reported in the main study that either their favorite or second favorite activity was “hanging out with friends” or a very similar activity (e.g., “going to parties with my friends”) were not recruited for this study.
These effects did not interact with the participants’ reported sex, age, or ethnicity.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioural sciences. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
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.
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.
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.
Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The Satisfaction with Life Scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 71–75.
Diener, E., Suh, E. M., Lucas, R. E., & Smith, H. L. (1999). Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 276–302.
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.
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.
Hochberg, Y. (1988). A sharper Bonferroni procedure for multiple tests of significance. Biometrika, 75, 800–802.
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.
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//0022-3522.214.171.1247.
Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K. M., & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology, 9, 111–131. doi:10.1037/1089-26126.96.36.199.
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.
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.
Maxwell, S. E., & Delaney, H. D. (2004). Designing experiments and analyzing data: A model comparison perspective. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
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.
Pavot, W., & Diener, E. (1993). Review of the Satisfaction with Life Scale. Psychological Assessment, 5, 164–172.
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.
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.
Ryff, C. D., & Keyes, C. L. M. (1995). The structure of psychological well-being revisited. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 719–727.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rights and permissions
About this article
Cite this article
Schellenberg, B.J.I., Bailis, D.S. Can Passion be Polyamorous? The Impact of Having Multiple Passions on Subjective Well-Being and Momentary Emotions. J Happiness Stud 16, 1365–1381 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-014-9564-x
- Harmonious passion
- Obsessive passion
- Psychological well-being
- Dualistic model of passion