Broaden-and-build - Narrowing


Fredrickson’s original Broaden-and-Build model focused solely on the broadening of attention through positive emotions. Today, proposals are in favor of incorporating the importance of a narrowing component in addition to broadening to build personal resources. Negative emotions are generally involved in the narrowing process. The adverse effects of negative emotions can be counterbalanced and undone by positive emotions. Therefore, beneficial aspects can be experienced without harmful effects if both positive and negative emotions are experienced in proportion.

The creative process, which is a key component that allows widening of the mind to lead to building personal resources, is often studied in respect to both sides of the emotional spectrum. Studies demonstrate that those who are more naturally creative experience much wider mood swings, spending a lot of time in both positive and negative emotional spaces depending on what they are trying to accomplish at the time. Too much time on either side can be detrimental to this process. If too much time is spent in positive emotions without appropriate counterbalance, an individual is likely to become aloof and unfocused.

The creative process is often discussed in two stages. The first stage is defocused attention which is followed by focused attention. Fredrickson alludes to defocused attention in her Broaden-and-Build model. Defocused attention occurs when a person is able to see a wide range of possibilities and take in as much information as possible. The second stage, focused attention, takes place when more negative emotions are felt. During focused attention, a person analyzes the possibilities that they found during defocused attention. Without this process, concrete ideas do not form. This theory lends itself to the inclusion of negative, narrowing emotions in this model. Another theory verifying this inclusion is the whole-brain hypothesis of creativity. The theory states that the defocused process uses a greater portion of the right side of the brain, whereas the focused process uses more of the left side of the brain. Creativity necessitates the communication between the two hemispheres allowing these processes to work together to form coherent theories and develop personal skills. This theory provides support for a more integrated model that includes narrowing as well as broadening in order to build.

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