For members

The Build Hypothesis


If we accept the premise that positive emotions broaden people’s mindsets what would be the purpose?  The build hypothesis explains the functionality of positive emotions.  Unlike negative emotions during which the body becomes prepared physically and mentally for immediate action, the adaptive value of positive emotions lies not in the moment, but over the long-term.  From an evolutionary standpoint, the resources accrued through repeated experiences of  positive emotions enhance the odds of survival and of living long enough to reproduce.

The resources gained through positive emotional experiences may be physical, social, psychological or intellectual.  Currently our lab aims to explore the many possible resources that may be augmented as a result of positive emotion experience.  Here are some of the candidate resources:

Physical Resources – sleep quality, immunity from illnesses and diseases
Social  – expanded social connections, social support
Intellectual – creativity, mindfulness,
Psychological – trait resilience, optimism

This line of research is expanding. We recently found experimental support for the build hypothesis using a manipulation that increased the level of positive emotions people experienced.  In a 2-month study, participants either attended a workshop cultivating positive emotions through meditation or had no intervention whatsoever.  The results indicated that increasing the level of positive emotions leads to numerous benefits to health and well-being.  This work is currently in prepartion for publication.


Related Research :
The Broaden-and-Build Theory of Positive Emotions
The Broaden Hypothesis
The Undoing Hypothesis
Positivity Ratios