J Happiness Stud DOI 10.1007/s10902-015-9619-7

J Happiness Stud
DOI 10.1007/s10902-015-9619-7
RESEARCH PAPER
Examining the Intensity and Frequency of Experience
of Discrete Positive Emotions
P. Alex Linley • Helen Dovey • Sarah Beaumont • Joy Wilkinson
Robert Hurling
•
Ó Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015
Abstract Research into positive emotions has grown significantly over the last decade.
This has focused typically on aggregate positive emotions, despite increasing evidence for
differential outcomes from discrete positive emotions. We examined the intensity and
frequency of experience of 50 discrete positive emotions in a sample of 500 participants.
Results showed that the most frequently experienced positive emotions were Interested,
Curious, Friendly, Amused and Positive. The most intensely experienced positive emotions
were Happy, Optimistic, Friendly, Interested and Determined. Women scored higher than
men on the frequency of experience of 12 positive emotions; men scored higher for
Ecstatic only. Women scored higher than men on the intensity of experience of 6 positive
emotions, whereas men scored higher on the intensity of experience of three positive
emotions. Analyses with age showed findings broadly consistent with the U-curve of life
satisfaction across the life span. The discussion focuses on how these data can inform and
support future positive emotions research, and the importance of considering discrete
positive emotions.
Keywords Positive emotions Frequency Intensity Gender differences Age
differences
1 Introduction
Even with the early efforts of researchers such as Alice Isen (e.g., Isen and Levin 1972) and
Michael Argyle (e.g., Argyle and Crossland 1987), it is only in the last 10–15 years that
P. A. Linley (&) H. Dovey S. Beaumont
Centre of Applied Positive Psychology, University of Warwick Science Park, Coventry CV4 7EZ, UK
e-mail: [email protected]
J. Wilkinson R. Hurling
Unilever Discover, Colworth, UK
123
P. A. Linley et al.
positive emotions have generated wider and sustained attention in the psychology research
literature. Positive emotions research has been galvanized and inspired by Fredrickson’s
(1998) seminal broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. The broaden-and-build
model has subsequently led to the development of an understanding of the role, process and
outcomes of positive emotions.
Nonetheless, research to date has generally focused on generic or aggregated positive
emotions, thereby treating the category of ‘positive emotions’ as a homogeneous grouping.
Is this right, or is there a case for now moving to consider the role of discrete positive
emotions, as a further advance in knowledge relative to what is now established about
aggregated positive emotions? In this paper, we argue that the case for understanding
discrete positive emotions is becoming compelling.
1.1 Positive Emotions Are Not All the Same
An increasing body of evidence suggests that positive emotions may not all be the same in
relation to their triggers, processes and outcomes. For example, Campos et al. (2013)
examined the similarities and differences of 8 positive emotions (amusement, awe, contentment, gratitude, interest, joy, love and pride) as pertained to core relational themes and
expressive displays. Across two studies, they found that the 8 emotions shared the one
quality of high positive valence, but that otherwise there were differences between them.
By examining the impact of distinct positive emotions on the sympathetic and vagal
parasympathetic aspects of the autonomic nervous system, Shiota, Neufeld, Yeung, Moser
and Perea (2011) showed physiologically distinct pathways for the influence of the five
positive emotions of enthusiasm, attachment love, nurturant love, amusement and awe.
Shiota et al. conclude that these distinct physiological pathways may be reflective of the
distinct fitness-enhancing function of each specific positive emotion, which has arisen
through evolutionary selection over time.
In a more social context, Strohminger et al. (2011) demonstrated that mirth and
elevation, as two distinct positive emotions of humour, led to distinct and differentiated
moral judgments, showing that while they may share general positive affectivity (valence),
these two emotions nonetheless have distinct behavioural consequences and outcomes.
In a study examining the characteristics of leaders on their impact on organisational
climate, Michie (2009) showed how the pride of leaders led to greater prosocial behaviour
by those leaders, through greater social justice and altruism, with this effect mediated by
gratitude on social justice only, thereby differentiating pride and gratitude in this context.
Further, Williams and De Steno (2008) differentiated pride from self-efficacy and general
positive affect, proposing that pride served as a motivational incentive to persevere with a
task despite the initial costs incurred.
As this small, but important, literature is beginning to show, not all positive emotions
are the same, with different positive emotions having different antecedents, processes of
operation and consequences. Unfortunately, this focus on more omnibus measures of wellbeing has limited the conclusions that can be drawn on the impacts of emotion and the
emotional impacts of different interventions. For example, in a systematic review of 687
studies of the elicitation of discrete emotions, Lench, Flores and Bench (2011) had to limit
their meta-analysis to the major emotion categories of happiness, sadness, anger and
anxiety. They noted that ‘‘A review of potential discrete positive emotions was not possible
because few studies included more tha one of these emotions’’ (p. 838).
Hence, while we know a lot about broad emotion categories, a lot less is known about
the role of specific and discrete emotions and how different positive emotions may function
123
Positive Emotions
in different ways. Indeed, the increasing need to recognize the importance of discrete
emotions, rather than aggregated measures of emotion, led Gooty et al. (2009, p. 835) to
conclude that ‘‘research examining discrete emotions is not just a fruitful avenue for
research but also quite necessary.’’
1.2 The Dimensions of Positive Emotions
The question of which dimensions should be used to assess emotions, whether those
emotions are positive or negative, has long exercised emotion researchers. Potential dimensions of emotion that have been discussed in the literature include arousal (e.g.,
Kuppens et al. 2012), valence (e.g., Kuppens et al. 2012; Rubin and Talarico 2009),
intensity (e.g., Bachorowski and Braaten 1994; Diener et al. 1985; Larsen and Diener
1987; Rubin and Talarico 2009; Schimmack and Diener 1997) and frequency (Diener et al.
1985, 1991), all of which measure a different dimension of emotional experience, and may
or may not be related to each other, and even then, have the potential to be related to each
other in different ways.
Hence, in considering the dimensions of positive emotions to measure for the present
study, we sought to take account of these diverse findings. In focusing our attention
specifically on positive emotions, we had already pre-judged the valence or pleasantness of
the emotion as being positive. The remaining two major emotion dimensions are arousal or
intensity, and frequency of experience, and so it was these two dimensions on which we
focused in our exploration of positive emotions. Intensity and frequency were selected as
the key dimensions on which to focus, on the basis of how they are considered to be the
building blocks of happiness over time (Diener et al. 1985).
1.3 The Purpose of the Present Study
As shown above, there is a significant and growing focus on positive emotions, together
with their antecedents, mechanisms, processes, outcomes and consequences. Second, it is
starting to become clear that not all positive emotions are the same: positive emotions have
differentiated antecedents, processes and outcomes. Third, there is a case for assessing
positive emotions exclusively and independently of negative emotions, on the basis of
negative emotional contagion. Notwithstanding this, the majority of emotion measures
tend to assess positive and negative emotions together. Fourth, emotion models have been
constructed on a variety of dimensions, with valence, intensity and frequency being the
most consistent. Even so, there is scant data which shows the intensity and frequency of
experience of a representative set of positive emotions. Fifth and finally, fairly limited item
sets of positive emotions have been studied to date.
Following from the five reasons above, the purpose of the present study was to develop
a representative set of positive emotions and collect data on these emotions in relation to
their intensity and frequency of experience. In examining the frequency and intensity of
these emotions, we also explore associations with gender and age as two fundamental
demographic variables. This is on the basis that there is evidence that men and women
experience emotions differently (Fischer et al. 2004), and that the experience of positive
emotions specifically changes across the life span (Blanchflower and Oswald 2008).
Hence, for the present study, we set out to examine the roles of gender and age in
relation to the specific positive emotions studied here, which we believe to be a more
comprehensive set of positive emotions than has been considered in other studies to date.
Through this study, we aim to advance what is known about the intensity and frequency of
123
P. A. Linley et al.
experience of this wider set of positive emotions, thereby providing an empirical basis for
subsequent work on positive emotions.
2 Method
2.1 Item Development
We took three approaches to determine and select the set of positive emotions to be
included in the current research. First, Fredrickson (in press) has recently started to focus
her research programme on 10 positive emotions, which she considers to be representative
of positive emotions as a whole, and the fact that they are experienced relatively frequently
by people. These 10 positive emotions are, in the order of frequency with which
Fredrickson suggests they are experienced: love, joy, gratitude, serenity (contentment),
interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration and awe. Given Fredrickson’s focus on these
positive emotions, we ensured their inclusion in the current study.
Second, we reviewed existing, well-established measures of emotion—all of which
included both positive and negative emotions. These measures included the PANAS
(Watson et al. 1988), the modified Differential Emotions Scale (Fredrickson et al. 2003,
2008), and the 30 emotion items used by Rubin and Talarico (2009). We also reviewed the
Affective Norms for English Words (Bradley and Lang 1999), although due to limitations
of space, we did not include every positive emotion listed in this set of 1,034 English
words.
Third, this list was supplemented with additional emotions through consideration of
major theories of human motivation, including self-determination theory (e.g., autonomous, competent: Ryan and Deci 2000), evolutionary theory of sexual attraction (e.g.,
desirable, flirtatious: Buss 1992) and emotions that were of interest to us as researchers, but
which were not to date a specific focus within the research literature (e.g., clean, cleansed).
On this basis, we identified a set of 50 positive emotions, which were assessed on the
two dimensions of intensity and frequency. We acknowledge that this list of 50 positive
emotions may not be considered fully comprehensive, and that other emotions could have
been included. Having taken each of the three extensive approaches above, however, we
judged that the 50 positive emotions selected were at the least a representative set for initial
exploratory study.
2.2 Participants
Participants were 500 in total, 263 male and 237 female, with a mean age of 33.42 years
(SD = 11.24 years, range 17–78 years) and typically from a White ethnic background
(77.20 %). The majority of participants were educated to Degree (36.20 %) or Masters
level (26.60 %).
2.3 Measures
Frequency of positive emotions was assessed using the 50 items, with each item being a
single positive emotion word. Participants were asked to rate how often they experienced
each emotion in their everyday life using a 1–7 scale where 1 = ‘Less than once every
2 weeks’, 2 = ‘Once every 2 weeks’, 3 = ‘2–3 times every 2 weeks’, 4 = ‘Once every
123
Positive Emotions
week’, 5 = ‘2–3 times every week’, 6 = ‘Once every day’ and 7 = ‘2–3 times every day.’
The 50 positive emotions assessed are as reported in the Sect. 3. The score range reported
by the female sample was 2–7 respectively (i.e., no ratings of 1) for the frequency of the
following positive emotions: Interested, Friendly, Amused, Determined and Compassionate. All other positive emotions had a full range frequency score of 1–7 for the female
sample. For the male sample, the full score range of 1–7 was used for the frequency of all
50 positive emotions.
Intensity of positive emotions was assessed using the same 50 items, with each item
being a single positive emotion word. Participants were asked to rate with how much
intensity they generally experience each emotion in their life using a 0–6 scale where
0 = ‘No intensity’, 1 = ‘Very low intensity’, 2 = ‘Low intensity’, 3 = ‘Moderate intensity’, 4 = ‘High intensity’, 5 = ‘Very high intensity’ and 6 = ‘Extreme intensity.’
The score range reported by the female sample was 1–6 respectively (i.e., no ratings of 0)
for the intensity of the following positive emotions: Compassionate, Inspired, Loving,
Positive, Delighted, Attentive, Proud, Pleasant, Contented and Self-directed. All other
positive emotions had a full range intensity score of 0–6 for the female sample. For the
male sample, the full score range of 0–6 was used for the intensity of all 50 positive
emotions.
2.4 Design and Procedure
A cross-sectional questionnaire survey design was employed in order to examine the
intensity and frequency of experience of positive emotions.
Participants were recruited via online advertising and completed the study in return for a
£10 (c. $15) Amazon voucher (Amazon is a widely-used online retailer). Participants
completed the study online through the online data collection tool, Survey Monkey. The
study was completed in one sitting and participants were required to complete the full
study in order to receive their voucher.
Participants rated the frequency and intensity with which they experienced the 50
positive emotions. Participants were then requested to provide basic demographic details.
Participants were invited to rate the frequency with which they experienced each positive
emotion first, followed by the intensity with which they experienced the positive emotion.
The 50 emotion words were presented in a randomized order of presentation for each
participant, within each section of frequency and intensity.
2.5 Data Analyses
Multivariate analyses of variance were used to examine differences by gender and by age
group, together with follow up univariate analyses of variance for individual positive
emotions, with covariates of each of gender, age, ethnicity and education, respectively.
3 Results
Table 1 shows the frequency of experience for 50 positive emotions overall, and also for
male and female participants by gender. A multivariate analysis of variance was carried out
on the frequency of experience data between male and female groups which indicated the
Wilks’ Lambda criterion was significant (F (50, 449) = 4.21; p \ .001). Table 1 shows
the separate follow up univariate ANOVAs for gender differences in the frequency of
123
123
5.37
5.26
5.20
5.11
5.09
5.07
5.03
5.02
5.01
4.99
4.99
4.99
4.99
4.94
4.93
4.90
4.89
4.88
4.88
4.85
4.84
4.84
4.83
4.83
4.82
4.81
Interested
Curious
Friendly
Amused
Positive
Attentive
Enthusiastic
Self-directed
Cheerful
Determined
Pleasant
Happy
Connected
Affectionate
Loving
Engaged
Active
Compassionate
Autonomous
Grateful
Optimistic
Good
Calm
Joyful
Satisfied
Hopeful
(1.41)
(1.32)
(1.48)
(1.60)
(1.37)
(1.43)
(1.23)
(1.39)
(1.38)
(1.39)
(1.35)
(1.53)
(1.51)
(1.51)
(1.59)
(1.45)
(1.42)
(1.46)
(1.51)
(1.54)
(1.44)
(1.74)
(1.30)
(1.63)
(1.54)
(1.44)
Overall mean (SD)
Positive emotion
5.39
5.19
5.10
4.95
4.98
4.90
5.04
5.00
4.75
4.81
4.74
4.60
4.85
4.64
4.61
4.77
4.92
4.65
4.84
4.76
4.77
4.55
4.81
4.92
4.95
4.90
(1.37)
(1.26)
(1.26)
(1.59)
(1.32)
(1.43)
(1.19)
(1.38)
(1.43)
(1.55)
(1.39)
(1.51)
(1.50)
(1.46)
(1.50)
(1.51)
(1.49)
(1.51)
(1.62)
(1.59)
(1.45)
(1.97)
(1.20)
(1.67)
(1.34)
(1.37)
Male mean (SD)
5.35
5.32
5.31
5.28
5.20
5.24
5.01
5.03
5.29
5.18
5.25
5.41
5.13
5.27
5.28
5.02
4.84
5.13
4.92
4.94
4.91
5.15
4.85
4.72
4.66
4.70
(1.44)
(1.38)
(1.68)
(1.59)
(1.41)
(1.41)
(1.26)
(1.41)
(1.25)
(1.14)
(1.24)
(1.42)
(1.49)
(1.48)
(1.61)
(1.35)
(1.33)
(1.35)
(1.38)
(1.47)
(1.42)
(1.36)
(1.40)
(1.58)
(1.72)
(1.50)
Female mean (SD)
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
0.07, n.s.
1.23, n.s.
2.51, n.s.
5.54, n.s.
3.05, n.s.
7.11, n.s.
0.11, n.s.
0.07, n.s.
20.02*
9.14, n.s.
18.09*
37.60*
4.57, n.s.
23.12*
22.88*
3.61, n.s.
0.40, n.s.
14.14*
0.35, n.s.
1.88, n.s.
1.18, n.s.
15.09*
0.13, n.s.
1.78, n.s.
4.49, n.s.
2.53, n.s.
Univariate ANOVA
Table 1 Frequency of experience for 50 positive emotions overall and by gender, with and without covariates of age, ethnicity and education
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
490)
490)
490)
490)
490)
490)
490)
490)
490)
490)
490)
490)
490)
490)
490)
490)
490)
490)
490)
490)
490)
490)
490)
490)
490)
490)
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
0.02, n.s.
2.13, n.s.
2.52, n.s.
5.72, n.s.
3.46, n.s.
11.56*
0.01, n.s.
0.85, n.s.
21.69*
10.10, n.s.
21.95*
36.95*
7.62, n.s.
25.28*
27.58*
4.98, n.s.
0.16, n.s.
19.39*
0.57, n.s.
3.46, n.s.
1.50, n.s.
18.42*
0.53, n.s.
1.65, n.s.
3.96, n.s.
1.60, n.s.
Univariate ANOVA
with covariates
P. A. Linley et al.
* p \ .001
4.78
4.74
4.73
4.73
4.71
4.67
4.62
4.60
4.59
4.56
4.50
4.47
4.45
4.39
4.39
4.36
4.29
4.25
4.16
4.08
4.05
3.96
3.83
3.81
Nurturing
Capable
Passionate
Clean
Alert
Contented
Fresh
Proud
Strong
Accomplished
Resilient
Inspired
Attractive
Delighted
Excited
Free
Desirable
Surprised
Relieved
Cleansed
Masterful
Awe
Ecstatic
Flirtatious
(1.66)
(1.73)
(1.57)
(1.57)
(1.57)
(1.50)
(1.35)
(1.42)
(1.47)
(1.40)
(1.28)
(1.36)
(1.63)
(1.42)
(1.41)
(1.69)
(1.68)
(1.36)
(1.54)
(1.59)
(1.48)
(1.55)
(1.72)
(1.86)
Overall mean (SD)
Positive emotion
Table 1 continued
4.49
4.81
4.49
4.42
4.71
4.38
4.71
4.65
4.57
4.62
4.32
4.50
4.44
4.36
4.20
4.40
4.31
4.39
4.24
4.16
4.11
4.09
4.11
3.78
(1.71)
(1.73)
(1.71)
(1.54)
(1.39)
(1.55)
(1.29)
(1.53)
(1.55)
(1.33)
(1.25)
(1.36)
(1.70)
(1.36)
(1.44)
(1.53)
(1.71)
(1.35)
(1.42)
(1.47)
(1.48)
(1.51)
(1.75)
(1.93)
Male mean (SD)
5.10
4.65
4.98
5.06
4.69
4.99
4.51
4.54
4.60
4.49
4.70
4.42
4.45
4.42
4.58
4.30
4.25
4.08
4.05
3.98
3.97
3.81
3.51
3.82
(1.54)
(1.72)
(1.34)
(1.52)
(1.73)
(1.36)
(1.40)
(1.28)
(1.36)
(1.46)
(1.27)
(1.35)
(1.54)
(1.47)
(1.35)
(1.83)
(1.64)
(1.35)
(1.65)
(1.70)
(1.47)
(1.58)
(1.61)
(1.78)
Female mean (SD)
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
17.46*
1.01, n.s.
12.55*
21.44*
0.03, n.s.
21.96*
2.85, n.s.
0.69, n.s.
0.08, n.s.
1.08, n.s.
11.11*
0.47, n.s.
0.00, n.s.
0.26, n.s.
9.20, n.s.
0.40, n.s.
0.17, n.s.
6.93, n.s.
1.95, n.s.
1.68, n.s.
1.11, n.s.
4.10, n.s.
15.64*
0.06, n.s.
Univariate ANOVA
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
490) = 26.39*
490) = 0.61, n.s.
490) = 13.11*
490) = 20.45*
490) = 0.01, n.s.
490) = 22.52*
490) = 2.38, n.s.
490) = 0.43, n.s.
490) = 0.54, n.s.
490) = 0.75, n.s.
490) = 11.45*
490) = 0.34, n.s.
490) \ 0.01, n.s.
490) = 0.32, n.s.
490) = 9.74, n.s.
490) = 0.17, n.s.
490) = 0.03, n.s.
490) = 6.36, n.s.
490) = 1.72, n.s.
490) = 1.24, n.s.
490) = 0.87, n.s.
490) = 3.00, n.s.
490) = 16.54*
490) \ 0.01, n.s.
Univariate ANOVA
with covariates
Positive Emotions
123
P. A. Linley et al.
experience of the individual positive emotions, as well as gender differences when controlling for age, ethnicity and education. In order to account for multiple ANOVAs, an
adjusted p value of p \ .001 was applied. As can be seen in Table 1, the five most
frequently experienced positive emotions overall were Interested, Curious, Friendly,
Amused and Positive.
Women scored significantly higher than men in their frequency of feeling Happy,
Resilient, Contented, Loving, Compassionate, Good, Nurturing, Pleasant, Passionate,
Cheerful, Affectionate, and Clean. In contrast, men scored significantly higher than women
in their frequency of feeling Ecstatic only.
Comparing men and women on the mean frequency of all 50 positive emotions combined showed a gender difference that was non-significant, with women (M = 4.77,
SD = 0.79) rating their frequency of experience of positive emotions slightly higher than
men (M = 4.64, SD = 0.83; t (498) = –1.85, p = .065). The mean difference was -.134,
with 95 % CI -.277–.009.
The MANOVA including the covariates of age, ethnicity and education showed that the
Wilks’ Lambda criterion was significant (F (50, 441) = 4.15; p \ .001) for frequency. The
single difference in the pattern of gender difference results for frequency when controlling
for age, ethnicity and education, was that the gender difference for Attentive reached
statistical significance in this case (F (1,490) = 11.56, p \ 001.
Table 2 shows the intensity of experience for 50 positive emotions overall, and also by
gender. A multivariate analysis of variance was carried out on the intensity of experience
data between male and female groups which indicated the Wilks’ Lambda criterion was
significant (F (50, 449) = 3.31; p \ .001). Table 2 shows the separate follow up univariate
ANOVAs for gender differences in the intensity of experience of the individual positive
emotions. In order to account for multiple ANOVAs, an adjusted p value of p \ .001 was
applied. As can be seen in Table 2, the five most intensely experienced positive emotions
overall were Happy, Optimistic, Friendly, Interested and Determined (it is notable that
Interested and Friendly rank in the top five for both frequency and intensity).
Women scored significantly higher than men in their intensity of feeling Compassionate, Hopeful, Delighted, Inspired, Cheerful, and Ecstatic. In contrast, men scored
significantly higher than women in their intensity of feeling Optimistic, Desirable, and
Alert.
Comparing men (M = 3.56, SD = 0.66) and women (M = 3.53, SD = 0.63) on the
mean intensity of all 50 positive emotions combined was again non-significant for gender
differences (t (498) = .39, p = .69). The mean difference was .023, with 95 % CI -.090
to .136.
The MANOVA including the covariates of age, ethnicity and education showed that the
Wilks’ Lambda criterion was significant for intensity (F (50, 441) = 2.21; p \ .001). The
only two differences for intensity when controlling for age, ethnicity and education, were
that the gender differences for Optimistic and Ecstatic became non-significant.
In order to examine patterns of positive emotions across different age groups, we split
the sample into four approximately equal groups: 17–25 years (26.5 %), 26–33 years
(26.7 %), 34–39 years (22.4 %) and 40? years (24.4 %).
Examining the differences in frequency of positive emotion across these four age
groups, a one-way ANOVA was significant (F (3, 494) = 7.15, p \ 0.001). The highest
mean score for the frequency of experience of positive emotions was reported by the
40? years age group (M = 4.96, SD = 0.80), followed by the 34–39 years age group
(M = 4.71, SD = 0.76), the 17–25 years age group (M = 4.66, SD = 0.88), and the
26–33 years age group (M = 4.50, SD = 0.75) respectively.
123
4.06
3.92
3.92
3.88
3.87
3.86
3.79
3.75
3.75
3.73
3.72
3.72
3.71
3.70
3.65
3.65
3.62
3.62
3.60
3.58
3.58
3.57
3.57
3.57
3.57
3.55
Happy
Optimistic
Friendly
Interested
Determined
Engaged
Capable
Loving
Curious
Alert
Accomplished
Compassionate
Positive
Resilient
Good
Surprised
Excited
Inspired
Autonomous
Calm
Grateful
Enthusiastic
Passionate
Satisfied
Affectionate
Attentive
(1.16)
(1.32)
(1.27)
(1.20)
(1.33)
(1.30)
(1.28)
(1.48)
(1.25)
(1.37)
(1.21)
(1.33)
(1.23)
(1.33)
(1.36)
(1.50)
(1.14)
(1.44)
(1.26)
(1.25)
(1.25)
(1.31)
(1.38)
(1.15)
(1.31)
(1.15)
Overall mean (SD)
Positive emotion
4.01
4.10
3.91
3.96
3.96
3.97
3.87
3.66
3.76
3.95
3.87
3.53
3.72
3.85
3.59
3.72
3.71
3.39
3.70
3.57
3.74
3.49
3.63
3.49
3.45
3.64
(1.25)
(1.36)
(1.36)
(1.28)
(1.46)
(1.35)
(1.25)
(1.57)
(1.28)
(1.47)
(1.26)
(1.43)
(1.35)
(1.44)
(1.51)
(1.59)
(1.05)
(1.48)
(1.28)
(1.23)
(1.12)
(1.47)
(1.36)
(1.19)
(1.43)
(1.25)
Male mean (SD)
4.12
3.71
3.92
3.78
3.77
3.73
3.70
3.85
3.73
3.49
3.56
3.93
3.69
3.52
3.71
3.56
3.53
3.87
3.50
3.59
3.40
3.67
3.51
3.66
3.70
3.45
(1.05)
(1.23)
(1.15)
(1.10)
(1.18)
(1.24)
(1.31)
(1.36)
(1.21)
(1.21)
(1.14)
(1.18)
(1.08)
(1.18)
(1.18)
(1.38)
(1.22)
(1.34)
(1.23)
(1.27)
(1.36)
(1.12)
(1.40)
(1.10)
(1.15)
(1.03)
Female mean (SD)
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
498)
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
1.14, n.s.
11.28*
0.02, n.s.
2.56, n.s.
2.62, n.s.
4.05, n.s.
2.29, n.s.
2.00, n.s.
0.04, n.s.
14.05*
8.14, n.s.
11.02*
0.07, n.s.
7.80, n.s.
1.03, n.s.
1.43, n.s.
3.09, n.s.
14.55*
3.18, n.s.
0.07, n.s.
9.11, n.s.
2.24, n.s.
0.95, n.s.
2.91, n.s.
4.33, n.s.
3.13, n.s.
Univariate ANOVA
Table 2 Intensity of experience for 50 positive emotions overall and by gender, with and without covariates of age, ethnicity and education
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
490) = 1.16, n.s.
490) = 10.16, n.s.
490) = 0.16, n.s.
490) = 1.64, n.s.
490) = 1.80, n.s.
490) = 3.13, n.s.
490) = 1.59, n.s.
490) = 2.65, n.s.
490) = 0.16, n.s.
490) = 13.16*
490) = 7.07, n.s.
490) = 12.98*
490) \ 0.01, n.s.
490) = 7.45, n.s.
490) = 1.01, n.s.
490) = 1.29, n.s.
490) = 3.15, n.s.
490) = 14.56*
490) = 2.10, n.s.
490) = 0.29, n.s.
490) = 6.97, n.s.
490) = 2.07, n.s.
490) = 0.83, n.s.
490) = 2.46, n.s.
490) = 3.63, n.s.
490) = 2.92, n.s.
Univariate ANOVA
with covariates
Positive Emotions
123
123
* p \ .001
3.55
3.55
3.54
3.54
3.53
3.51
3.50
3.50
3.49
3.47
3.42
3.41
3.41
3.35
3.32
3.31
3.29
3.27
3.23
3.22
3.22
3.15
2.98
2.82
Pleasant
Connected
Joyful
Cheerful
Free
Clean
Amused
Proud
Hopeful
Strong
Nurturing
Delighted
Ecstatic
Active
Self-directed
Cleansed
Masterful
Awe
Contented
Relieved
Fresh
Desirable
Attractive
Flirtatious
(1.14)
(1.20)
(1.20)
(1.38)
(1.34)
(1.45)
(1.44)
(1.33)
(1.28)
(1.29)
(1.30)
(1.37)
(1.48)
(1.42)
(1.32)
(1.49)
(1.33)
(1.42)
(1.24)
(1.27)
(1.42)
(1.34)
(1.38)
(1.48)
Overall mean (SD)
Positive emotion
Table 2 continued
3.68
3.56
3.61
3.30
3.63
3.59
3.46
3.54
3.26
3.47
3.27
3.20
3.21
3.50
3.47
3.27
3.41
3.42
3.09
3.26
3.17
3.34
3.01
2.63
(1.22)
(1.24)
(1.17)
(1.51)
(1.25)
(1.47)
(1.44)
(1.40)
(1.37)
(1.33)
(1.33)
(1.40)
(1.39)
(1.62)
(1.30)
(1.44)
(1.43)
(1.42)
(1.30)
(1.33)
(1.44)
(1.34)
(1.46)
(1.46)
Male mean (SD)
3.41
3.53
3.46
3.81
3.41
3.42
3.54
3.44
3.73
3.47
3.59
3.65
3.63
3.19
3.16
3.35
3.15
3.09
3.38
3.18
3.27
2.94
2.94
3.03
(1.02)
(1.15)
(1.24)
(1.17)
(1.43)
(1.42)
(1.44)
(1.24)
(1.13)
(1.25)
(1.24)
(1.29)
(1.54)
(1.14)
(1.33)
(1.55)
(1.19)
(1.39)
(1.16)
(1.20)
(1.40)
(1.31)
(1.29)
(1.48)
Female mean (SD)
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
498) = 6.89, n.s.
498) = 0.06, n.s.
498) = 2.07, n.s.
498) = 16.90*
498) = 3.27, n.s.
498) = 1.72, n.s.
498) = 0.39, n.s.
498) = 0.71, n.s.
498) = 17.12*
498) \ 0.01, n.s.
498) = 7.65, n.s.
498) = 14.11*
498) = 10.24*
498) = 5.88, n.s.
498) = 6.93, n.s.
498) = 0.40, n.s.
498) = 4.89, n.s.
498) = 7.10, n.s.
498) = 7.13, n.s.
498) = 0.41, n.s.
498) = 0.56, n.s.
498) = 11.58*
498) = 0.36, n.s.
498) = 9.26, n.s.
Univariate ANOVA
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
(1,
490) = 6.33, n.s.
490) \ 0.01, n.s.
490) = 2.28, n.s.
490) = 17.08*
490) = 2.91, n.s.
490) = 1.37, n.s.
490) = 0.21, n.s.
490) = 0.25, n.s.
490) = 19.49*
490) = 0.31, n.s.
490) = 9.45, n.s.
490) = 13.45*
490) = 10.58, n.s.
490) = 5.02, n.s.
490) = 5.78, n.s.
490) = 0.20, n.s.
490) = 4.26, n.s.
490) = 6.92, n.s.
490) = 6.59, n.s.
490) = 0.51, n.s.
490) = 0.53, n.s.
490) = 11.87*
490) = 0.50, n.s.
490) = 7.84, n.s.
Univariate ANOVA
with covariates
P. A. Linley et al.
Positive Emotions
Table 3 Age differences for frequency of positive emotions in four age groups, with covariates of gender,
ethnicity and education
Positive
emotion
17–25 years
old mean
(SD)
26–33 years
old mean
(SD)
34–39 years
old mean
(SD)
40? years
old mean
(SD)
Univariate ANOVA
with covariates
Interested
5.33 (1.44)
4.98 (1.35)
5.29 (1.38)
5.93 (1.31)
F (3, 488) = 9.15*
Curious
5.45 (1.43)
4.84 (1.28)
5.13 (1.10)
5.60 (1.31)
F (3, 488) = 9.86*
Friendly
5.51 (1.48)
4.88 (1.48)
4.85 (1.26)
5.56 (1.49)
F (3, 488) = 9.18*
Amused
5.60 (1.59)
4.70 (1.64)
4.67 (1.61)
5.45 (1.32)
F (3, 488) = 15.22*
Positive
5.00 (1.41)
4.91 (1.26)
5.10 (1.26)
5.40 (1.47)
F (3, 488) = 3.19, n.s.
Attentive
4.99 (1.36)
4.68 (1.39)
4.97 (1.43)
5.68 (1.33)
F (3, 488) = 10.93*
Enthusiastic
4.95 (1.28)
4.77 (1.20)
5.00 (1.12)
5.45 (1.21)
F (3, 488) = 6.03*
Self-directed
4.56 (1.45)
4.79 (1.20)
5.10 (1.26)
5.73 (1.35)
F (3, 488) = 12.88*
Cheerful
5.21 (1.36)
4.73 (1.39)
4.72 (1.27)
5.37 (1.40)
F (3, 488) = 7.83*
Determined
4.98 (1.21)
4.89 (1.27)
4.91 (1.38)
5.17 (1.67)
F (3, 488) = 1.34, n.s.
Pleasant
5.04 (1.40)
4.85 (1.22)
4.64 (1.31)
5.40 (1.36)
F (3, 488) = 6.85*
Happy
5.39 (1.52)
4.67 (1.49)
4.73 (1.47)
5.17 (1.52)
F (3, 488) = 7.28*
Connected
4.67 (1.58)
4.73 (1.45)
4.97 (1.39)
5.69 (1.34)
F (3, 488) = 8.74*
Affectionate
5.18 (1.44)
4.59 (1.44)
4.60 (1.54)
5.38 (1.49)
F (3, 488) = 9.62*
Loving
4.90 (1.72)
4.73 (1.44)
4.68 (1.48)
5.37 (1.62)
F (3, 488) = 4.86, n.s.
Engaged
4.92 (1.39)
4.66 (1.40)
4.80 (1.49)
5.20 (1.49)
F (3, 488) = 3.08, n.s.
Active
4.68 (1.33)
4.70 (1.34)
5.02 (1.31)
5.23 (1.60)
F (3, 488) = 2.68, n.s.
Compassionate
4.86 (1.39)
4.63 (1.39)
4.75 (1.54)
5.32 (1.44)
F (3, 488) = 5.04, n.s.
Autonomous
4.69 (1.60)
4.87 (1.37)
4.95 (1.27)
5.01 (1.77)
F (3, 488) = 0.91, n.s.
Grateful
4.79 (1.55)
4.56 (1.50)
4.80 (1.53)
5.29 (1.51)
F (3, 488) = 4.18, n.s.
Optimistic
4.92 (1.52)
4.64 (1.28)
4.81 (1.29)
5.30 (1.61)
F (3, 488) = 1.83, n.s.
Good
4.82 (1.54)
4.58 (1.64)
4.88 (1.72)
5.07 (2.04)
F (3, 488) = 1.73, n.s.
Calm
4.76 (1.44)
4.65 (1.21)
4.75 (1.04)
5.17 (1.41)
F (3, 488) = 3.19, n.s.
Joyful
4.79 (1.60)
4.55 (1.66)
4.80 (1.51)
5.25 (1.66)
F (3, 488) = 3.71, n.s.
Satisfied
4.83 (1.58)
4.60 (1.49)
4.81 (1.37)
5.07 (1.70)
F (3, 488) = 1.82, n.s.
Hopeful
4.60 (1.46)
4.55 (1.34)
4.96 (1.37)
5.17 (1.53)
F (3, 488) = 3.76, n.s.
Nurturing
4.24 (1.70)
4.70 (1.54)
4.85 (1.47)
5.45 (1.67)
F (3, 488) = 8.60*
Capable
4.56 (1.67)
4.46 (1.76)
4.77 (1.75)
5.27 (1.59)
F (3, 488) = 3.86, n.s.
Passionate
4.75 (1.53)
4.64 (1.37)
4.80 (1.49)
4.69 (1.88)
F (3, 488) = 0.35, n.s.
Clean
5.15 (1.49)
4.64 (1.49)
4.39 (1.48)
4.68 (1.74)
F (3, 488) = 3.72, n.s.
Alert
4.73 (1.56)
4.49 (1.50)
4.70 (1.41)
4.91 (1.76)
F (3, 488) = 1.43, n.s.
Contented
4.78 (1.42)
4.52 (1.41)
4.63 (1.46)
4.83 (1.64)
F (3, 488) = 1.39, n.s.
Fresh
4.46 (1.44)
4.36 (1.20)
4.84 (1.24)
4.90 (1.44)
F (3, 488) = 4.57, n.s.
Proud
4.24 (1.46)
4.58 (1.31)
4.87 (1.33)
4.81 (1.49)
F (3, 488) = 2.62, n.s.
Strong
4.39 (1.49)
4.42 (1.34)
4.72 (1.32)
4.83 (1.66)
F (3, 488) = 1.53, n.s.
Accomplished
4.41 (1.50)
4.45 (1.37)
4.68 (1.20)
4.79 (1.44)
F (3, 488) = 1.14, n.s.
Resilient
4.47 (1.35)
4.52 (1.17)
4.58 (1.12)
4.49 (1.44)
F (3, 488) = 0.16, n.s.
Inspired
4.34 (1.46)
4.44 (1.27)
4.39 (1.24)
4.72 (1.39)
F (3, 488) = 0.78, n.s.
Attractive
4.34 (1.63)
4.39 (1.50)
4.68 (1.42)
4.41 (1.90)
F (3, 488) = 0.95, n.s.
Delighted
4.47 (1.44)
4.02 (1.38)
4.50 (1.29)
4.60 (1.49)
F (3, 488) = 4.47, n.s.
Excited
4.52 (1.41)
4.22 (1.34)
4.44 (1.41)
4.36 (1.50)
F (3, 488) = 2.08, n.s.
123
P. A. Linley et al.
Table 3 continued
Univariate ANOVA
with covariates
Positive
emotion
17–25 years
old mean
(SD)
26–33 years
old mean
(SD)
34–39 years
old mean
(SD)
40? years
old mean
(SD)
Free
4.08 (1.74)
4.18 (1.56)
4.50 (1.52)
4.77 (1.82)
F (3, 488) = 2.93, n.s.
Desirable
4.29 (1.68)
4.20 (1.57)
4.34 (1.63)
4.31 (1.87)
F (3, 488) = 0.80, n.s.
Surprised
4.24 (1.45)
3.98 (1.26)
4.49 (1.23)
4.36 (1.44)
F (3, 488) = 3.31, n.s.
Relieved
4.21 (1.37)
3.86 (1.60)
4.34 (1.63)
4.31 (1.51)
F (3, 488) = 3.38, n.s.
Cleansed
3.95 (1.76)
4.18 (1.45)
4.23 (1.50)
4.00 (1.62)
F (3, 488) = 0.80, n.s.
Masterful
3.76 (1.50)
3.92 (1.46)
4.50 (1.35)
4.15 (1.49)
F (3, 488) = 4.47, n.s.
Awe
3.66 (1.68)
3.84 (1.42)
4.34 (1.40)
4.05 (1.64)
F (3, 488) = 2.87, n.s.
Ecstatic
3.66 (1.69)
3.77 (1.46)
4.36 (1.59)
3.58 (2.04)
F (3, 488) = 5.10, n.s.
Flirtatious
4.10 (1.78)
3.57 (1.70)
3.91 (1.83)
3.68 (2.11)
F (3, 488) = 2.26, n.s.
* p \ .001
A multivariate analysis of variance was carried out on the frequency of experience data
between the four age groups which indicated the Wilks’ Lambda criterion was significant
(F (150, 1,317) = 2.27, p \ 0.001). Table 3 shows the separate follow up univariate
ANOVAs for age differences in the frequency of experience of the individual positive
emotions, when controlling for gender, ethnicity and education. In order to account for
multiple ANOVAs, an adjusted p value of p \ .001 was applied.
Examining the differences in intensity of positive emotion across the four age groups,
an one-way ANOVA was significant (F (3, 494) = 6.60, p \ 0.001). The highest mean
score for the intensity of experience of positive emotions was reported by the 34–39 years
age group (M = 3.67, SD = 0.61), followed by the 40? years age group (M = 3.66,
SD = 0.67), the 26–33 years age group (M = 3.51, SD = 0.59), and the 17–25 years age
group (M = 3.37, SD = 0.64) respectively.
A multivariate analysis of variance was also carried out on the intensity of experience
data between the four age groups which indicated the Wilks’ Lambda criterion was significant (F (150, 1,317) = 2.13, p \ 0.001). Table 4 shows the separate follow up univariate ANOVAs for age differences in the intensity of experience of the individual
positive emotions, when controlling for gender, ethnicity and education. In order to account for multiple ANOVAs, an adjusted p value of p \ .001 was applied.
Examining the patterns of significant differences between age groups across frequency
and intensity, the four positive emotions of Attentive, Connected, Nurturing and Selfdirected were the only positive emotions to be show significant differences across both the
frequency and intensity of experience of positive emotions.
Table 5 presents a three-way split on frequency and intensity for 50 positive emotions,
showing those emotions which occur as high frequency/high intensity; high frequency/
medium intensity; high frequency/low intensity; medium frequency/high intensity; medium frequency/medium intensity; medium frequency/low intensity; low frequency/high
intensity; low frequency/medium intensity; and low frequency/low intensity. It is notable
that the majority of emotions are ‘on-diagonal’ (26 in total, with 8 positive emotions rated
high frequency/high intensity; 8 positive emotions rated medium frequency/medium intensity; and 10 positive emotions rated low frequency/low intensity). A lower number of
positive emotions are ‘off-diagonal’: four positive emotions are low frequency/high intensity, and only two positive emotions are high frequency/low intensity).
123
Positive Emotions
Table 4 Age differences for intensity of positive emotions in four age groups, with covariates of gender,
ethnicity and education
Positive
emotion
17–25 years
old mean
(SD)
26–33 years
old mean
(SD)
34–39 years
old mean
(SD)
40? years
old mean
(SD)
Univariate ANOVA
with covariates
Happy
3.97 (1.23)
4.00 (1.06)
4.13 (1.15)
4.21 (1.20)
F (3, 488) = 0.57, n.s.
Optimistic
3.53 (1.33)
3.85 (1.31)
4.07 (1.25)
4.30 (1.28)
F (3, 488) = 3.38, n.s.
Friendly
3.71 (1.29)
3.74 (1.21)
3.92 (1.29)
4.35 (1.22)
F (3, 488) = 5.32, n.s.
Interested
3.82 (1.11)
3.60 (1.25)
3.99 (1.25)
4.14 (1.19)
F (3, 488) = 4.68, n.s.
Determined
3.63 (1.19)
3.75 (1.46)
3.89 (1.36)
4.26 (1.25)
F (3, 488) = 2.81, n.s.
Engaged
3.47 (1.30)
3.77 (1.25)
4.12 (1.31)
4.17 (1.29)
F (3, 488) = 4.58, n.s.
Capable
3.45 (1.27)
3.61 (1.30)
3.89 (1.22)
4.31 (1.15)
F (3, 488) = 7.30*
Loving
3.81 (1.36)
3.54 (1.56)
3.43 (1.60)
4.26 (1.24)
F (3, 488) = 7.66*
Curious
3.48 (1.25)
3.69 (1.25)
3.86 (1.24)
3.98 (1.24)
F (3, 488) = 0.97, n.s.
Alert
3.24 (1.18)
3.61 (1.35)
3.98 (1.35)
4.22 (1.41)
F (3, 488) = 7.95*
Accomplished
3.34 (1.13)
3.81 (1.19)
3.95 (1.20)
3.87 (1.28)
F (3, 488) = 3.69, n.s.
Compassionate
3.67 (1.17)
3.70 (1.28)
3.66 (1.41)
3.85 (1.49)
F (3, 488) = 0.26, n.s.
Positive
3.31 (1.23)
3.73 (1.16)
3.92 (1.21)
3.93 (1.24)
F (3, 488) = 4.57, n.s.
Resilient
3.20 (1.44)
3.90 (1.28)
4.03 (1.22)
3.74 (1.24)
F (3, 488) = 9.99*
Good
3.43 (1.20)
3.73 (1.35)
3.67 (1.45)
3.79 (1.48)
F (3, 488) = 2.33, n.s.
Surprised
3.37 (1.30)
3.79 (1.40)
3.99 (1.46)
3.49 (1.75)
F (3, 488) = 4.02, n.s.
Excited
3.64 (1.22)
3.59 (1.15)
3.76 (1.08)
3.51 (1.08)
F (3, 488) = 1.17, n.s.
Inspired
3.60 (1.39)
3.71 (1.38)
3.78 (1.42)
3.39 (1.56)
F (3, 488) = 1.87, n.s.
Autonomous
3.32 (1.30)
3.50 (1.19)
3.93 (1.24)
3.71 (1.27)
F (3, 488) = 3.49, n.s.
Calm
3.30 (1.28)
3.65 (1.23)
3.64 (1.17)
3.76 (1.30)
F (3, 488) = 2.56, n.s.
Grateful
3.42 (1.26)
3.52 (1.29)
3.51 (1.15)
3.86 (1.26)
F (3, 488) = 1.39, n.s.
Enthusiastic
3.56 (1.14)
3.45 (1.24)
3.60 (1.52)
3.76 (1.35)
F (3, 488) = 1.05, n.s.
Passionate
3.50 (1.30)
3.44 (1.30)
3.65 (1.42)
3.74 (1.50)
F (3, 488) = 0.90, n.s.
Satisfied
3.40 (1.21)
3.67 (1.01)
3.85 (1.14)
3.42 (1.18)
F (3, 488) = 4.22, n.s.
Affectionate
3.62 (1.30)
3.62 (1.25)
3.45 (1.27)
3.58 (1.44)
F (3, 488) = 0.39, n.s.
Attentive
3.20 (1.03)
3.39 (1.02)
3.76 (1.18)
3.98 (1.20)
F (3, 488) = 10.92*
Pleasant
3.31 (1.10)
3.44 (1.13)
3.59 (1.22)
3.90 (1.04)
F (3, 488) = 4.67, n.s.
Connected
3.12 (1.27)
3.54 (1.09)
3.73 (1.16)
3.86 (1.16)
F (3, 488) = 7.43*
Joyful
3.51 (1.20)
3.42 (1.21)
3.60 (1.14)
3.69 (1.25)
F (3, 488) = 0.98, n.s.
Cheerful
3.49 (1.24)
3.55 (1.36)
3.59 (1.42)
3.57 (1.55)
F (3, 488) = 0.07, n.s.
Free
3.33 (1.41)
3.45 (1.28)
3.81 (1.25)
3.62 (1.37)
F (3, 488) = 2.16, n.s.
Clean
3.25 (1.27)
3.64 (1.38)
3.63 (1.56)
3.55 (1.58)
F (3, 488) = 0.75, n.s.
Amused
3.80 (1.39)
3.30 (1.36)
3.38 (1.51)
3.52 (1.48)
F (3, 488) = 3.45, n.s.
Proud
3.18 (1.17)
3.52 (1.31)
3.59 (1.40)
3.76 (1.38)
F (3, 488) = 0.81, n.s.
Hopeful
3.40 (1.10)
3.44 (1.34)
3.71 (1.32)
3.41 (1.35)
F (3, 488) = 1.94, n.s.
Strong
3.07 (1.24)
3.55 (1.22)
3.51 (1.40)
3.78 (1.26)
F (3, 488) = 3.05, n.s.
Nurturing
2.97 (1.24)
3.53 (1.24)
3.60 (1.28)
3.67 (1.33)
F (3, 488) = 9.54*
Delighted
3.46 (1.33)
3.43 (1.45)
3.34 (1.42)
3.45 (1.31)
F (3, 488) = 0.25, n.s.
Ecstatic
3.62 (1.45)
3.36 (1.45)
3.54 (1.43)
3.16 (1.58)
F (3, 488) = 4.95, n.s.
Active
3.18 (1.27)
3.20 (1.39)
3.70 (1.39)
3.40 (1.60)
F (3, 488) = 2.95, n.s.
Self-directed
3.01 (1.27)
3.08 (1.24)
3.50 (1.31)
3.77 (1.34)
F (3, 488) = 6.45*
123
P. A. Linley et al.
Table 4 continued
Positive
emotion
17–25 years
old mean
(SD)
26–33 years
old mean
(SD)
34–39 years
old mean
(SD)
40? years
old mean
(SD)
Univariate ANOVA
with covariates
Cleansed
3.11 (1.50)
3.63 (1.48)
3.53 (1.45)
2.98 (1.48)
F (3, 488) = 5.57*
Masterful
2.98 (1.36)
3.28 (1.30)
3.66 (1.25)
3.33 (1.34)
F (3, 488) = 3.64, n.s.
Awe
3.08 (1.44)
3.30 (1.33)
3.49 (1.43)
3.26 (1.47)
F (3, 488) = 0.98, n.s.
Contented
3.31 (1.13)
3.20 (1.21)
3.19 (1.32)
3.24 (1.34)
F (3, 488) = 0.21, n.s.
Relieved
3.21 (1.10)
3.27 (1.20)
3.36 (1.40)
3.10 (1.40)
F (3, 488) = 0.84, n.s.
Fresh
3.02 (1.32)
3.33 (1.40)
3.36 (1.39)
3.19 (1.60)
F (3, 488) = 1.34, n.s.
Desirable
3.01 (1.33)
3.16 (1.36)
3.34 (1.34)
3.15 (1.33)
F (3, 488) = 0.81, n.s.
Attractive
3.04 (1.26)
2.86 (1.34)
3.25 (1.49)
2.81 (1.45)
F (3, 488) = 2.93, n.s.
Flirtatious
2.95 (1.43)
2.73 (1.44)
3.11 (1.59)
2.55 (1.44)
F (3, 488) = 3.79, n.s.
* p \ .001
Table 5 High/medium/low split on frequency and intensity for 50 positive emotions
Low frequency
Medium frequency
High frequency
High intensity
Surprised, accomplished, excited,
resilient
High intensity
Alert, capable,
compassionate, good,
optimistic
High intensity
Curious, determined, engaged,
friendly, happy, interested,
loving, positive
Medium intensity
Free, inspired
Medium intensity
Autonomous, calm, clean,
grateful, joyful, passionate,
proud, satisfied
Medium intensity
Affectionate, amused, attentive,
cheerful, connected,
enthusiastic, pleasant
Low intensity
Attractive, awe, cleansed, delighted,
desirable, ecstatic, flirtatious,
masterful, relieved, strong
Low intensity
Nurturing, hopeful, contented,
fresh
Low intensity
Self-directed, active
4 Discussion
This study provides frequency and intensity data for a set of 50 positive emotions which
were assessed exclusively as positive emotions, rather than as part of an emotional set that
also included negative emotions. Results showed that the most frequently experienced
positive emotions were Interested, Curious, Friendly, Amused and Positive. The top five
most intensely experienced positive emotions were Happy, Optimistic, Friendly, Interested
and Determined. The positive emotions of Interested and Friendly ranked in the top five for
both frequency and intensity.
Our frequency and intensity data for positive emotions did not necessarily correspond
with the ten most frequent positive emotions suggested by Fredrickson (in press).
Fredrickson suggests the following ranking of positive emotions for frequency of experience (brackets show the frequency/intensity rank order from our data): love (15/8), joy
(24/29), gratitude (20/21), serenity (contentment) (32/45), interest (1/4), hope (26/35),
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Positive Emotions
pride (34/34), amusement (4/33), inspiration (38/18) and awe (48/44). Interest and
amusement both feature in our top ten frequencies, consistent with Fredrickson, but the
other 8 positive emotions do not. It remains an open question whether this is reflective of
some type of cultural difference (cf. Leu et al. 2011), or whether there is something more
fundamental about the frequency of experience of positive emotions.
Analyses showed that Women scored significantly higher than men in their frequency of
feeling Happy, Resilient, Contented, Loving, Compassionate, Good, Nurturing, Pleasant,
Passionate, Cheerful, Affectionate, and Clean. In contrast, men scored significantly higher
than women in their frequency of feeling Ecstatic only. In relation to the intensity of
experience of positive emotions, women scored significantly higher than men in their
intensity of feeling Compassionate, Hopeful, Delighted, Inspired, Cheerful, and Ecstatic. In
contrast, men scored significantly higher than women in their intensity of feeling Optimistic, Desirable, and Alert.
Comparing these results by gender, we typically see higher frequency and intensity of
positive emotional experience in women, especially in relation to emotions that pertain to
relationships (e.g., Loving, Compassionate, Nurturing, and Affectionate). Given gender
differences in sexual evolution (Buss 1992), it is also interesting to note that women report
feeling more intensely Ecstatic, whereas men feel more frequently Ecstatic, as well as more
intensely Desirable and Optimistic. At the risk of overstepping the mark with generalizations from these data, one very tentative hypothesis is that the results may be reflective
of the fact that men derive more frequent pleasure from sexual activity (Slosarz 2000) and
are also more optimistic about their own desirability to sexual companions (Smith et al.
2011), while women are recognized as being more nurturing and relationship-oriented
(Taylor et al. 2000), but valuing the quality (intensity) of ecstatic experience over its
quantity (Smith et al. 2011).
Comparing these results across the four age groups we created from the participant
sample, we see an approximate pattern of a slight U-shape for the frequency of experience
of positive emotions, with these being lower for the 34–39 years age group. For the
intensity of experience of positive emotions by age, this tends to increase with age, leveling
out with the 40? years age group. The findings for the frequency of experience of positive
emotions by age are broadly consistent with evidence suggesting that well-being may be
U-shaped over the life cycle (Blanchflower and Oswald 2008), whereas the finding that the
intensity of experience of positive emotions appears to increase with age is an interesting
avenue for future research, suggesting the potential for the life cycle trends of frequency
and intensity to be different to each other.
Our findings also show clearly that not all positive emotions are the same. These data
for frequency and intensity show that positive emotions are experienced across a range of
frequency and intensity, although the overall data are relatively normally distributed and
tend to be broadly consistent across the majority of the positive emotions. This suggests
that while the frequency and intensity of positive emotions tend to co-occur, a finding that
is supported by the correlation between them (r = 0.67, p \ .001), the two dimensions are
still independent of each other. This is particularly visible in Table 5, where positive
emotions do occur ‘on-diagonal’, but there are also a notable number of positive emotions
that appear ‘off-diagonal’. We hope that these data will provide a rich resource for researchers who may be interested in different emotions that are on/off the frequency/
intensity diagonal, allowing the calibration of interest around emotions that may be experienced very frequently but with low intensity, relative to emotions that are experienced
more rarely but with high intensity.
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P. A. Linley et al.
These findings support the arguments of Kuppens et al. (2012), who showed that
emotions are not sufficiently stable on any dimensions that enable a reliable structure of
emotion to be established. Instead, careful attention should be paid to the malleability and
individual differences of emotions, something which we have begun to do in this study by
teasing apart a focus on these 50 positive emotions.
Further, while other studies have examined the different antecedents, processes and
consequences of several discrete positive emotions (e.g., Campos et al. 2013; Michie 2009;
Shiota et al. 2011; Strohminger et al. 2011; Williams and De Steno 2008), this is the first
study to our knowledge that examines the frequency and intensity of a broad set of 50
positive emotions, assessed exclusively as a battery of positive emotions, and so avoiding
potential negative contagion with negative emotions (Argyle and Crossland 1987). In
doing so, we hope to have contributed to the body of knowledge that is starting to build that
answers Gooty et al.’s (2009) challenge to researchers about the fruitfulness, but also the
necessity, of studying discrete positive emotions.
Of course, this study is not without its limitations. It draws from a sample of primarily
British adults, who are slightly better-educated than average – a fairly common finding
with internet samples. As the sample was a paid Internet sample, there is always the
possibility, as with any study where participants are provided a reward for participation,
that participants simply completed the study as quickly as possible and without care to
achieve their reward. We did not see any evidence for this (which may have been indicated
by a lack of variance in a participant’s response set), but nonetheless, this remains a
possibility. Equally, evidence suggests that Internet samples are just as reliable as traditional paper-and-pencil samples (Gosling et al. 2004).
Future research should seek to examine the frequency and intensity of positive emotions
in more diverse cultural samples, including drawing on the potential for a wider and more
differentiated cultural set of positive emotion words. It is likely that the 50 positive
emotions selected are biased towards a White, Anglo-Saxon, Western vocabulary of
emotional experience. As such, it is recommended that positive emotions that may be more
specific to different cultures should also be explored (cf. Leu et al. 2011).
We should also comment on the nature of some of the 50 positive emotions themselves,
and the words selected from the emotional lexicon to express them. First, it is entirely
possible that different emotion words may mean slightly different things to different
people, especially across different cultures or different social groups. Some cultures may
be more expressive of positive emotion, and so more likely to endorse ‘joyful’, whereas
others may be less expressive, and so more likely to endorse only ‘cheerful’. Further, some
of the emotions included can also be understood and identified as strengths: gratitude,
resilience, and optimism are all included in strengths lexicons (Linley et al. 2010; Peterson
and Seligman 2004), yet they are also clearly experienced as emotions (‘I feel grateful/
resilient/optimistic’). Hence, while these words clearly have emotional content, we also
acknowledge that they have wider meanings as part of personality traits or dynamic processes as well.
Notwithstanding this, these data provide the first available reference, to our knowledge,
for a set of 50 different positive emotions, assessed on the dimensions of intensity and
frequency, and assessed exclusively as positive emotions to avoid negative emotional
contagion. Further, this study relied on retrospective recall of the frequency and intensity
of emotional experience. It would be interesting to compare these data to data captured
through ecological momentary assessment, to explore how memory of emotion frequency
and intensity relates to momentary experience. For example, the use of daily diaries, or the
Experience Sampling Methodology (Csikszentmihalyi and Larsen 1987), often used in
123
Positive Emotions
studies of flow, would allow the recording of the experience of positive emotions in much
more of a real time state than the retrospective memory recall approach we have taken
here. Other research avenues for studying the experience of the frequency and intensity of
positive emotions could also include the Day Reconstruction Method, developed by
Kahneman, Krueger, Schkade, Schwarz and Stone (2004) to assess subjective well-being,
and specifically designed to overcome the limitation of memory recall about emotional
states.
In conclusion, we hope that this study—and these data—proves useful to future researchers who are working to expand the boundaries of what is known about positive
emotions and the important roles these emotions play in all of our lives.
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