, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 286–299 | Cite as

Development of the Appreciative Joy Scale

  • Xianglong Zeng
  • Ran Liao
  • Ruirui Zhang
  • Tian P. S. Oei
  • Zhihua Yao
  • Freedom Y. K. Leung
  • Xiangping LiuEmail author


Appreciative joy (or sympathetic joy) refers to feeling happiness for others and is one of the four prosocial attitudes (“four immeasurables”) cultivated by loving-kindness meditation in Buddhism. The current study included 1622 participants and developed a scale to measure appreciative joy for friends in daily life. Both an exploratory factor analysis and confirmatory factor analysis resulted in an appreciative joy scale consisting of three components: sense of joy, positive interpersonal bias, and self-transcendence (study 1). The appreciative joy scale exhibited high correlations with measurements for interpersonal relationships and four immeasurables. The scale also shows incremental contributions to positive emotions, satisfaction with life, trait happiness, and peace of mind after controlling for interpersonal relationships or the four immeasurables (studies 2 and 3). The scale exhibited higher scores among Buddhists than among individuals with no religious belief, and its structure was maintained across English and Chinese samples (study 4); in addition, it demonstrated good test-retest reliability (study 5). Overall, the current study validated the scale as a useful tool for measuring appreciative joy, and certain findings also highlighted directions for future research on appreciative joy, including causal relationships with positive emotions, comparisons with compassion, and effects on envy.


Appreciative joy Sympathetic joy Symhedonia Four immeasurables Loving-kindness meditation Compassion Envy Positive empathy 



This study was conducted while XZ was studying at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and it received support from both Beijing Normal University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The orders of institutions are alphabetical.

This study is supported by the National Social Science Foundation of China 14BSH082.

We thank Nicholas Van Dam and two anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions.

Authors’ Contributions

XZ provided the conceptualization and generated the items; XZ, RZ, and TO designed the study; XZ, RL, and XL collected and analyzed the data; XZ, RZ, TO, ZY, and FL collaborated in the writing of the paper. All authors discussed the results and reviewed and commented on the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was provided for all participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

12671_2016_599_MOESM1_ESM.docx (79 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 78 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xianglong Zeng
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ran Liao
    • 3
  • Ruirui Zhang
    • 2
  • Tian P. S. Oei
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
  • Zhihua Yao
    • 7
  • Freedom Y. K. Leung
    • 2
  • Xiangping Liu
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.School of PsychologyBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatinPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Mental Health Education and Counseling Center for StudentsBeijing Wuzi UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.School of PsychologyUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  5. 5.Department of PsychologyJames Cook University SingaporeSingaporeSingapore
  6. 6.Department of PsychologyNanjing UniversityNanjingPeople’s Republic of China
  7. 7.Department of PhilosophyThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatinPeople’s Republic of China

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