On the Paucity of Positive Emotions

  • James R. Averill
Part of the Advances in the Study of Communication and Affect book series (ASCA, volume 6)


The positive emotions have proved to be a source of embarrassment to psychologists. Discussions of fear, anxiety, depression, anger, grief, etc., are plentiful in the psychological literature. But when it comes to emotions such as joy, mirth, love, mystical experiences, and the like, psychologists are often at a loss for words. Thus, in a content analysis of psychological textbooks, Carlson (1967) found that approximately twice as much space was devoted to negative as to positive emotions. Although Carlson’s analysis is now somewhat out of date, I doubt that a survey of current textbooks would reveal a major change in emphasis (except perhaps for a recent upsurge of interest in issues related to sexual behavior, including romantic love).


Negative Emotion Positive Emotion Sexual Arousal Cognitive Structure Physiological Arousal 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • James R. Averill
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA

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