A Project of the University of Pennsylvania and the John Templeton Foundation

The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions

Published: March, 2001

Investigator(s): Other Investigator(s)

Researcher(s): Frederickson, B. L.


In this article, the author describes a new theoretical perspective on positive emotions and situates this in perspective within the emerging field of positive psychology. The broaden-and-build theory posits that experience of positive emotions broaden people's momentary thought–action repertoires, which in turn serves to build their enduring personal resources, ranging from physical and intellectual resources to social and psychological resources. Preliminary empirical evidence supporting the broaden-and-build theory is reviewed, and open empirical questions that remain to be tested are identified. The theory and findings suggest that the capacity to experience positive emotions may be a fundamental human strength central to the study of human flourishing.

JTF grant funded: No