Positive Emotions

Positive emotions may serve the coping process better than negative emo- tions, but are all positive emotions equally adaptive? Maybe not. Sarah Press- man and Sheldon Cohen (2012) analyzed the language used by 88 influential deceased psychologists in their writings. Specifically, they categorized and counted the words used that were positive or negative and high or low in arousal. These distinctions resulted in four types of emotion words: positive-high arousal (lively, enthusiastic, energetic), positive-low arousal (calm, peaceful, content), negative-high arousal (tense, afraid, angry), and negative-low arousal (lonely, drowsy, tired). On average, the psychologists sampled had lived an average of 79 years. Even after controlling for the possible effects of sex, year of birth, and other factors, Pressman and Cohen found that the more positive-high arousal emotion words the psychologists had used in their writings, the longer they lived—by an average of five years. The use of positive-low arousal emotion words was not similarly associated with longevity.

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