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Savoring and Dampening with Passion: How Passionate People Respond when Good Things Happen

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How do people react when they experience a positive event while pursuing a passionate activity? In this research, we conducted three studies to test if the extent to which people respond to positive events by engaging in savoring (i.e., attempting to maintain or enhance positive emotions) and dampening (i.e., attempting to down-regulated or stifle positive emotions) is predicted by levels of harmonious and obsessive passion for an activity. Study 1 (n = 321) and Study 2 (n = 547) both showed that harmonious passion positively predicted savoring, whereas obsessive passion predicted less savoring and greater dampening. Moreover, in Study 2, savoring mediated the relationships between both passion varieties and well-being outcomes. In Study 3, we extended these findings and tested if these relationships depended on whether a positive event was a result of an in-progress or completed achievement. Soccer fans (n = 394) imagined how they would react if their favorite team won either the semi-final (in-progress condition) or final (completed condition) of the ongoing UEFA champions league. In both scenarios, harmonious passion was a stronger predictor of savoring than obsessive passion. Obsessive passion also showed strong relationships with dampening in both scenarios, although this relationship was attenuated in the completed condition. Overall, these results reveal that passion varieties matter for predicting how people manage their good feelings following positive events, a finding that has implications for our understanding of the pathways that link passion varieties with well-being outcomes.

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  1. For Studies 1 and 3, we used G*Power software to determine sufficient samples sizes to detect small to medium effect sizes with a minimum of .80 power (Study 1 targeted N = 314; Study 3 targeted N = 395). For Study 2, sample size was estimated using a web application ( developed by Shoemann et al. (2017; Study 2 targeted N = 520). In each study, we recruited additional participants because we anticipated that some would need to be excluded due to dishonest responding.

  2. Jose et al. (2012) refer to the two factors of the shortened WOSC as ‘amplifying savoring’ and ‘dampening savoring’. For consistency, we refer to them as ‘savoring’ and ‘dampening’.

  3. In each study of this research, strong correlations were observed between HP and OP. Positive correlations between HP and OP are typical in the passion literature (see Marsh et al. 2013; Vallerand 2015), and the strength of these relationships can vary depending on the sample and activity domain (Marsh et al. 2013). To assess if these correlations introduced any potential problems related to multicollinearity, we calculated tolerance values for each study using the observed correlations between HP and OP (see Tables 1, 2, 4) and the formula: tolerance = 1 − R2; values less than .200 are typically interpreted as signally multicollinearity between predictor variables (Hutcheson and Sofroniou 1999). Tolerance values for Study 1, Study 2 (academic version), Study 2 (general version), and Study 3 were .534, .630, .908, and .592, respectively, which does not suggest that there are concerns due to multicollinearity in the analyses.

  4. Of the 321 participants, 21 participants did not report a recent team victory. Therefore, analyses of savoring and dampening reactions to the team victory were conducted with a sample of 300 sports fans.

  5. Correlations were compared in this research using the cocor software package (dependent groups, overlapping variables; Diedenhofen and Musch 2015).

  6. Variance values were obtained from Mplus output, and reliability values were estimated using Cronbach’s alpha.

  7. Bootstrapping was conducted using maximum likelihood estimation because it is unavailable with MLR estimation.


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This work was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada under Grant Number 756-2016-0132.

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Correspondence to Benjamin J. I. Schellenberg.

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Schellenberg, B.J.I., Gaudreau, P. Savoring and Dampening with Passion: How Passionate People Respond when Good Things Happen. J Happiness Stud 21, 921–941 (2020).

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