Positive Affect (A complete guide)

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This blog explains in detail the positive affect.

The positive effect is referred to as the ability of an individual to subjectively experience positive moods including joy, interest, and attentiveness.

Even though the concept of positive effect looks similar to the concept of positive emotions, they both differ in their nature.

Positive effect relates to emotion states while positive emotions deal with positive feelings along with characteristic patterns of physiological arousal, thoughts, and behaviors. 

The positive affect is commonly measured with the help of self-report questionnaires like the Positive and Negative Self Schedule.

In this scale, the participants are asked to mention the words that describe their positive and negative moods and then rate each of them according to their intensity they experience.

No doubt these scales were specifically designed for adults but they have been adapted for other age groups as well.

Let’s study more about positive affect and learn how it differs with negative affect in the next headings.

What is Positive and Negative Affect? 

The word ‘affect’ is used to describe the emotions and expressions of those emotions.

Affect is referred to as the experience of emotions or feelings and the way these emotions are expressed on the basis of their influence on us. 

Positive affectivity is defined as experience and expression of positive emotions such as cheerfulness, joy, enthusiasm, and so forth.

On the other hand, negative affectivity is defined as experience and expression of negative emotions such as sadness, guilt, distress, and so on. 

Positive and negative affect hold great importance in our life as their impact on us, our lives, and the people around us is very significant.

Affectivity an individual’s experiences, opinions, beliefs, ability, performances, and even the working of the brain.

Examples of Positive and Negative Affect 

Positive and negative affect can be better explained with the help of examples.

Examples of positive affect include joy, happiness, interest, attentiveness, and pride.

On its contrary, examples of negative affect include anger, disgust, fear, depression, and sadness.

The Psychology of Positive and Negative Affectivity 

Negative affectivity has gained more attention in research as compared to positive affectivity.

Researchers started taking interest in positive affectivity in the second half of the 20th century.

The first ever theory on positive affect was developed by Paul Meehl in 1975, while  exploring the concept of ‘hedonic capacity’.

According to Meehl, hedonic capacity, that is the tendency to experience happiness, varies from person to person.

He also claimed that hedonic capacity differs on the basis of varying negative emotionality. This laid emphasis that positive and negative affect are different concepts.

Characteristics and Personality Traits of PA and NA

Just as you might have expected, empirical evidence has revealed that positive affectivity is associated with an individual’s ‘orientation to happiness’.

The individuals who score high on positive affectivity tend to focus more on the happiness in life, meaning in life and pleasure as compared to those who do not possess positive affect.

Another interesting fact was unveiled that negative affect does not correlate in any way with ‘orientation to happiness’ (Bhutoria & Hooja, 2018).

This shows that an individual with greater positive affectivity is more likely to find happiness through exploring the meaning of life and pleasure, but the negative affectivity does not explain that they are not chasing happiness.  

Various researches on finding association between positive affect, negative affect and personality traits have been conducted.

The research results of one study shows that positive affect is expected to be negatively associated with neuroticism.

Positive affect positively correlates with extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness and conscientiousness (Işık & Üzbe, 2015). In addition to it, negative affect has a significant positive relationship with neuroticism and negative relationship with other personality traits (Işık & Üzbe, 2015; Zanon, Bastianello, Pacico, & Hutz, 2013).

These research results reveal that the more open, friendly, responsible, and outgoing a person is, the more likely he is to experience positive affect and less likely he is to experience negative affect.

In addition to it, the individuals with an absence of emotional stability and self-esteem and foreseen to experience negative affect more than the positive affect. 

How Positive and Negative Affect Impact Health

Positive affect impacts the individual and his life positively. Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, happiness and positive emotion researcher, emphasized that positive affectivity broadens an individual’s momentary thought-action repertoire. In simple words, people experience more openness, engatmen and willingness to be creative as a result of positive affect.

For instance, when an individual experiences happiness, he is more likely to feel a desire to engage with others and explore new things to do as copate to the individual who feels negative or moderate. 

Barabara Fredrickson named this theory as ‘broaden and build theory of positive emotions.’ according to the ‘broaden and build theory of positive emotions’,

  • When an individual experiences negative emotions such as fear, sadness and anxiety, he is foreseen to experience a narrowing in his thinking abilities and the options he might use for his next move.
  • When an individual experiences positive emotions such as happiness, inspiration and engagement, he is more likely to experience a broadening in his thought patterns and he comes across a number of options he might avail as his next move. 
  • The broadening enables an individual to develop their resources, skills and knowledge (Fredrickson, 2001).

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How to Increase Your Positive Affect

There are a number of ways in which an individual can increase his positive affect.

Although affectivity is inborn to some extent, that is people are born with a positive temperament, but there are various ways which can be adopted  to make it a habit of experiencing positive affect frequently in your life and transforming your moods into good ones. 

Majority of these ways include altering thought patterns and modifying the experience that you put yourself in.

The following are some ways by which you can increase your positive affect:

1. Maintain a Gratitude Journal 

Empirical evidence has shown that brainstorming and writing the things that you are grateful for in your life results in a greater experience of positive affect and it positively influences you for a long term.

2. Indulge in Life’s Pleasures 

  Engaging in the pleasure of life by planning experiences that give you happiness can increase positive affect to a considerable extent.

This positvle tinlucnes you for a long peroiod of time.

So it is very essential to plan positive, happy experiences on a regular basis to ensure the experience of positive affect. 

3. Engage in Hobbies

In our busy, monotonous routines, it becomes very difficult to take out time for hobbies.

Some of us might be excited for hobbies but due to lack of time they can not keep hobbies. In spite of our busy schedules, it is very important to keep hobbies to increase positive affect.

Engaging your mind into something that gives you  pleasure and distracts your mind from daily problems helps increase  positive affect and leave a sense of accomplishment for you, which again benefits you.

4. Practice Loving-Kindness Meditation

Practicing loving-kindness meditation is a very effective way of increasing positive affect.

Meditation helps relieve stress but loving -kindness meditation is even more fruitful than simple meditation.

Loving-kindness meditation helps elevate the levels of positive affect and make you feel relieved from stress. 

5. Exercise- And Make it Fun

Physical workout is very effective in relieving stress.

There are a number of kinds of exercises that you can indulge in to get fit as well as to increase positive affect.

Exercises like dancing, yoga, cycling, walking with a friend are some of the forms of physical activity that can create fun and increase your experience to positive affect. 

6. Remember and Savor Positive Experiences 

Empirical evidence has revealed that there is a likelihood that you know that actively savouring positive experiences can elongate the time span of your happiness you get from them. 

As a result of this, positive affect might also increase and it makes you enjoy your life to the fullest as well as enhances resilience in you.

The following are some of the best books related to positive affect.

These books will help you increase your knowledge about positive affect and their influence on human beings.

Just click the book you wish to study and you will be redirected to the page from where you can access it.

What is a positive effect?

The positive effect is the ability of an individual to positively explore a situation in which undesired results are produced but still the individual uses positive feedback that helps him in his future progress.

How Does positive affect differ from optimism?

Positive affect is different from optimism in a way that positive affect is more scientific as compared to optimism.

The positive effect includes the state of feelings while optimism includes expectations.

What are the types of affect?

There are two types of affect, positive affect, and negative affect. Some examples of affect include euphoria, anger, and sadness.

There is a wide range of affect, described as broad, restricted, blunted, or flat.

Affect is expressed through facial expressions, sound, and pitch of voice, gestures, hand, and body movements.

Is impact positive or negative?

According to the definition of OECD- DAC, the impact can be intended or unintended, positive or negative.

In addition to it, impact may be predicted ahead of time or not anticipated.

How being positive affects your health?

Thinking positively helps an individual improve his health by increasing his lifespan, ensuring cardiovascular health, reducing the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, promoting problem-solving skills during adversities, and so forth.

How a positive attitude affects others?

An individual’s positive attitude influences others positively.

In the case of the workplace, the positive attitude of an employee can encourage other coworkers and promote the work performance of coworkers.

This blog explained the positive affect in detail.

In this blog, you will be told about positive and negative affect, some examples of both of each of them, the theory behind positive affect, characteristics and personality traits of positive affect, the influence of positive affect, and ways in which we can increase positive affect.

If you have any questions or queries regarding this blog, let us know through your comments.

We will be glad to assist you.


How the Positive Affect Combats Stress by Elizabeth Scott,  2020

What is Positive and Negative Affect in Psychology? by Courtney E. Ackerman (2019)

Positive Affect | SpringerLink


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