The Value of Positive Emotions
The content you've requested is available without charge only to active Sigma Xi members and American Scientist subscribers.
If you are an active member or an individual subscriber, please log in now in order to access this article.
If you are not a member or individual subscriber, you can:
Positive emotions—joy, interest and contentment—are a puzzle to scientists. From an evolutionary point of view they don’t seem to have the same survival value as negative emotions such as fear or anger. The negative emotions elicit specific actions to run or attack, which must surely have helped our ancestors survive the dangers of life on the savannah. But what's the survival value of feeling joy or contentment? Psychologist Fredrickson argues that positive emotions allowed our ancestors to broaden their minds and build resources—intellectual, physical and social—that served them in good stead during hard times.