Nov 18 2002

Positive emotions

Published by at 8:20 pm under Uncategorized

From Jon Haidt’s paper on positive emotion, “Elevation and the positive psychology of morality

“If disgust is the emotional reaction that we feel when we see people move down… then is there a corresponding emotion we feel when we see people move up? … I have called this emotion elevation”

“To begin, my students and I did a simple recall study, asking college students to recall and write about times when they had been in one of four positive emotion-arousing situations. The prompt for elevation was to “think of a specific time when you saw a manifestation of humanity’s ‘higher’ or ‘better’ nature.” Control conditions included instructions to “think of a specific time when you were making good progress towards a goal,” which is the appraisal condition described by Lazarus (1991) as the elicitor of happiness. In a second study we induced elevation in the lab by showing participants 10 minute video clips, one of which was about the life of Mother Teresa. (Control conditions included an emotionally neutral but interesting documentary, and a comedy sequence from the television show “America’s Funniest Home Videos”). In both studies we found that participants in the elevation conditions reported different patterns of physical feelings and motivations, when compared to participants in the happiness and other control conditions. Elevated participants were more likely to report physical feelings in their chests, especially warm, pleasant, or “tingling” feelings, and they were more likely to report wanting to help others, to become better people themselves, and to affiliate with others. In both studies happiness energized people to engage in private or self-interested pursuits, while elevation seemed to open people up and turn their attention outwards, towards other people. Elevation therefore fits well with Fredrickson’s (1998) “broaden and build” model of the positive emotions, in which positive emotions are said to motivate people to cultivate skills and relationships that will help them in the long run.”

The question is, how do we figure out a way of connecting the notion of elevation to the dynamics of the network effect?

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