Over time, this broadened behavioral repertoire builds skills and resources. This is in contrast to negative emotions, which prompt narrow, immediate survival-oriented behaviors. However, over time, the skills and resources built by broadened behavior enhance survival. When a life-threatening event occurs, people typically have a narrow range of possible responses fredrickson open hearts build lives pdf urges.
Having a limited number of urges, called specific action tendencies, quickens a person’s response time in these situations. While negative emotions experienced during life-threatening situations narrow an individual’s thought-action repertoire, positive emotions present new possibilities, providing the individual with a wider range of thoughts and actions to choose to draw upon. The broaden-and-build theory is an exploration of the evolved function of positive emotions. The broaden-and-build theory has substantial support. Because positive emotions positively broaden and build one’s thought-action repertoires they lead to increased resources and more satisfied lives. Positive emotions can undo lingering negative emotions because they put the negative emotions in a broader perspective.
If an individual can cultivate these positive emotions, he or she can use them to help cope with negative emotions. Positive emotions help people who are distressed deal with what is occurring and move forward and away from the negative emotions. Also, because of their broadening effect, positive emotions increase the probability of finding good in future events. Individuals high in resiliency are those who experience more positive emotions even in the face of stress.
Having these positive emotions is what helps an individual build up resources to cope with negative emotional experiences. Interestingly, happiness is not only the result of, but is often present before success and high-functioning. According to Fredrickson, positive emotions build individual’s long-lasting psychological, intellectual, physical and social resources. The resources gained through positive emotions outlive the emotions from which they were acquired. Increased well-being leads to more positive emotions which lead to higher resilience. Higher resilience can then lead to increased well-being which would create an upward spiral of continually improving well-being. 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.
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.