The Undoing Effect of Positive Emotions

Abstract

Positive emotions are hypothesized to undo the cardiovascular aftereffects of negative emotions. Study 1 tests this undoing effect. Participants (n = 170) experiencing anxiety-induced cardiovascular reactivity viewed a film that elicited (a) contentment, (b) amusement, (c) neutrality, or (d) sadness. Contentment-eliciting and amusing films produced faster cardiovascular recovery than neutral or sad films did. Participants in Study 2 (n = 185) viewed these same films following a neutral state. Results disconfirm the alternative explanation that the undoing effect reflects a simple replacement process. Findings are contextualized by Fredrickson's broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions (B. L. Fredrickson, 1998).

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Fredrickson, B.L., Mancuso, R.A., Branigan, C. et al. The Undoing Effect of Positive Emotions. Motivation and Emotion 24, 237–258 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1010796329158

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Keywords

  • Social Psychology
  • Alternative Explanation
  • Negative Emotion
  • Positive Emotion
  • Neutral State