Broaden-and-build - Writing About Intensely Positive Emotions

Writing About Intensely Positive Emotions

A study conducted by Chad M. Burton and Laura A. King showed that writing about intensely positive experiences improved subjects’ happiness and health. Subjects were instructed to write about an intensely positive experience for twenty minutes each day for three days while a control group was instructed to write about a neutral topic for the same period of time. Following the study, the experimental group demonstrated an increase in happiness levels while the control group did not. The researchers recorded how many times the subjects went to the doctor for an illness over the next three months and found that the experimental group visited the doctor’s office far less often than the control group. These results can be interpreted using Fredrickson’s broaden-and-build theory. Reliving positive experiences induces positive emotions, and positive emotions help us to broaden-and-build. Therefore, subjects who wrote about positive experiences were able to use those positive emotions to broaden their experiences and build relationships and skills. This broadening-and-building gave the subjects long-term benefits in well-being. Those subjects who did not write about positive experiences did not experience an increase in positive emotions and therefore did not build the resources to help them feel happier and healthier in the following months.

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