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Positive Emotions Experienced on Days of Stress are Associated with Less Same-Day and Next-Day Negative Emotion

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Abstract

Positive emotions help us during times of stress. They serve to replenish resources and provide relief from stressful experiences. Positive emotions may be particularly beneficial during times of stress by dampening negative emotional reactivity and quickening recovery from stressful events. In this study, we used a daily diary design to examine how positive emotions experienced on days with minor stressful events are associated with same-day and next-day stressor-related negative emotions. We combined data from the National Study of Daily Experiences II (NSDE II) and the Midlife in the United States survey (MIDUS II), resulting in 1,588 participants who answered questions about daily stressors and emotion across 8 consecutive days. On days when people experienced a stressor and had higher than their average level of positive emotion, they experienced less of a same-day increase in negative emotion. Additionally, they experienced less subsequent negative emotion the following day and were less likely to experience a stressor the next day. Results held when adjusting for trait measures of positive and negative emotion. These results suggest that daily positive emotions experienced on days of stress help regulate our negative emotion during times of stress.

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Correspondence to Kate A. Leger.

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Leger, K.A., Charles, S.T. & Almeida, D.M. Positive Emotions Experienced on Days of Stress are Associated with Less Same-Day and Next-Day Negative Emotion. Affec Sci 1, 20–27 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42761-019-00001-w

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s42761-019-00001-w

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