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Journal: Emotion (Washington, D.C.)


Individuals in close relationships help each other in many ways, from listening to each other’s problems, to making each other feel understood, to providing practical support. However, it is unclear if these supportive behaviors track each other across days and as stable tendencies in close relationships. Further, although past work suggests that giving support improves providers' well-being, the specific features of support provision that improve providers' psychological lives remain unclear. We addressed these gaps in knowledge through a daily diary study that comprehensively assessed support provision and its effects on well-being. We found that providers' emotional support (e.g., empathy) and instrumental support represent distinct dimensions of support provision, replicating prior work. Crucially, emotional support, but not instrumental support, consistently predicted provider well-being. These 2 dimensions also interacted, such that instrumental support enhanced well-being of both providers and recipients, but only when providers were emotionally engaged while providing support. These findings illuminate the nature of support provision and suggest targets for interventions to enhance well-being. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Psychology, Personality psychology, Interpersonal relationship, Empathy, Emotion, Feeling, Technical support, William James


In nationally representative yearly surveys of United States 8th, 10th, and 12th graders 1991-2016 (N = 1.1 million), psychological well-being (measured by self-esteem, life satisfaction, and happiness) suddenly decreased after 2012. Adolescents who spent more time on electronic communication and screens (e.g., social media, the Internet, texting, gaming) and less time on nonscreen activities (e.g., in-person social interaction, sports/exercise, homework, attending religious services) had lower psychological well-being. Adolescents spending a small amount of time on electronic communication were the happiest. Psychological well-being was lower in years when adolescents spent more time on screens and higher in years when they spent more time on nonscreen activities, with changes in activities generally preceding declines in well-being. Cyclical economic indicators such as unemployment were not significantly correlated with well-being, suggesting that the Great Recession was not the cause of the decrease in psychological well-being, which may instead be at least partially due to the rapid adoption of smartphones and the subsequent shift in adolescents' time use. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Time, Sociology, Happiness, Unemployment, Late-2000s recession, Great Depression, BlackBerry, Business cycle


Many people feel emotional when hungry-or “hangry”-yet little research explores the psychological mechanisms underlying such states. Guided by psychological constructionist and affect misattribution theories, we propose that hunger alone is insufficient for feeling hangry. Rather, we hypothesize that people experience hunger as emotional when they conceptualize their affective state as negative, high arousal emotions specifically in a negative context. Studies 1 and 2 use a cognitive measure (the affect misattribution procedure; Payne, Hall, Cameron, & Bishara, 2010) to demonstrate that hunger shifts affective perceptions in negative but not neutral or positive contexts. Study 3 uses a laboratory-based experiment to demonstrate that hunger causes individuals to experience negative emotions and to negatively judge a researcher, but only when participants are not aware that they are conceptualizing their affective state as emotions. Implications for emotion theory, health, and embodied contributions to perception are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record


When it comes to the pursuit of happiness, popular culture encourages a focus on oneself. By contrast, substantial evidence suggests that what consistently makes people happy is focusing prosocially on others. In the current study, we contrasted the mood- and well-being-boosting effects of prosocial behavior (i.e., doing acts of kindness for others or for the world) and self-oriented behavior (i.e., doing acts of kindness for oneself) in a 6-week longitudinal experiment. Across a diverse sample of participants (N = 473), we found that the 2 types of prosocial behavior led to greater increases in psychological flourishing than did self-focused and neutral behavior. In addition, we provide evidence for mechanisms explaining the relative improvements in flourishing among those prompted to do acts of kindness-namely, increases in positive emotions and decreases in negative emotions. Those assigned to engage in self-focused behavior did not report improved psychological flourishing, positive emotions, or negative emotions relative to controls. The results of this study contribute to a growing literature supporting the benefits of prosocial behavior and challenge the popular perception that focusing on oneself is an optimal strategy to boost one’s mood. People striving for happiness may be tempted to treat themselves. Our results, however, suggest that they may be more successful if they opt to treat someone else instead. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Psychology, Culture, Positive psychology, Human behavior, Emotion, Happiness, Popular culture, Random act of kindness


Negative emotions are reliably associated with poorer health (e.g., Kiecolt-Glaser, McGuire, Robles, & Glaser, 2002), but only recently has research begun to acknowledge the important role of positive emotions for our physical health (Fredrickson, 2003). We examine the link between dispositional positive affect and one potential biological pathway between positive emotions and health-proinflammatory cytokines, specifically levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6). We hypothesized that greater trait positive affect would be associated with lower levels of IL-6 in a healthy sample. We found support for this hypothesis across two studies. We also explored the relationship between discrete positive emotions and IL-6 levels, finding that awe, measured in two different ways, was the strongest predictor of lower levels of proinflammatory cytokines. These effects held when controlling for relevant personality and health variables. This work suggests a potential biological pathway between positive emotions and health through proinflammatory cytokines. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2015 APA, all rights reserved).

Concepts: Inflammation, Medicine, Health, Epidemiology, Cytokine, Emotion, Personal life, All rights reserved


The smile is perhaps the most widely studied facial expression of emotion, and in this article we examine its status as a sign of physical dominance. We reason, on the basis of prior research, that prior to a physical confrontation, smiles are a nonverbal sign of reduced hostility and aggression, and thereby unintentionally communicate reduced physical dominance. Two studies provide evidence in support of this prediction: Study 1 found that professional fighters who smiled more in a prefight photograph taken facing their opponent performed more poorly during the fight in relation to their less intensely smiling counterparts. In Study 2, untrained observers judged a fighter as less hostile and aggressive, and thereby less physically dominant when the fighters' facial expression was manipulated to show a smiling expression in relation to the same fighter displaying a neutral expression. Discussion focused on the reasons why smiles are associated with decreased physical dominance. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2013 APA, all rights reserved).

Concepts: Cultural studies, All rights reserved, Smile, Zygomaticus major muscle, Facial Action Coding System, Anger, Facial expressions


Expressions of emotion are often brief, providing only fleeting images from which to base important social judgments. We sought to characterize the sensitivity and mechanisms of emotion detection and expression categorization when exposure to faces is very brief, and to determine whether these processes dissociate. Observers viewed 2 backward-masked facial expressions in quick succession, 1 neutral and the other emotional (happy, fearful, or angry), in a 2-interval forced-choice task. On each trial, observers attempted to detect the emotional expression (emotion detection) and to classify the expression (expression categorization). Above-chance emotion detection was possible with extremely brief exposures of 10 ms and was most accurate for happy expressions. We compared categorization among expressions using a d' analysis, and found that categorization was usually above chance for angry versus happy and fearful versus happy, but consistently poor for fearful versus angry expressions. Fearful versus angry categorization was poor even when only negative emotions (fearful, angry, or disgusted) were used, suggesting that this categorization is poor independent of decision context. Inverting faces impaired angry versus happy categorization, but not emotion detection, suggesting that information from facial features is used differently for emotion detection and expression categorizations. Emotion detection often occurred without expression categorization, and expression categorization sometimes occurred without emotion detection. These results are consistent with the notion that emotion detection and expression categorization involve separate mechanisms. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2013 APA, all rights reserved).

Concepts: Taxonomy, Categorization, Emotion, Paul Ekman, All rights reserved, Affect display, Emotional expression, Anger


Using Continuous Flash Suppression (CFS), we demonstrated in four experiments that affective information extracted from unseen faces influences both affective and personality judgments of neutral faces. In four experiments, participants judged neutral faces as more pleasant or unpleasant (Studies 1 and 2) or as more or less trustworthy, likable, and attractive (Study 3) or as more or less competent or interpersonally warm (Study 4) when paired with unseen smiling or scowling faces compared to when paired with unseen neutral faces. These findings suggest that affective influences are a normal part of everyday experience and provide evidence for the affective foundations consciousness. Affective misattribution arises even when affective changes occur after a neutral stimulus is presented, demonstrating that these affective influences cannot be explained as a simple semantic priming effect. These findings have implications for understanding the constructive nature of experience, as well as the role of affect in social impressions. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2012 APA, all rights reserved).

Concepts: Affect, Cognition, Memory, Perception, Emotion, All rights reserved, Implicit memory, Priming


Our emotions don’t have lives of their own, but mutually influence each other across time. Augmentation and blunting occur when experience of a current emotion increases or decreases the experience of another, subsequent emotion, and play a role in many everyday phenomena. In this study, we investigated patterns of augmentation and blunting between the experience of anger, sadness, relaxation, and happiness in daily life. In general, emotions with similar (opposite) valence showed augmentation (blunting) from one moment to the next. In search for a possible underlying mechanism, we showed that strength of augmentation and blunting was a function of degree of idiosyncratic appraisal overlap between two emotional states. This occurred even to the point that emotions with similar valence blunted one another in cases of small overlap, and emotions with opposite valence augmented one another in cases of large overlap. The findings reveal the dynamic interplay between different emotions across time, and highlight the role of appraisal overlap therein. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2012 APA, all rights reserved).

Concepts: Psychology, Emotion, Personal life, All rights reserved, Richard Lazarus, Appraisal theory


Emotional complexity has been regarded as one correlate of adaptive emotion regulation in adulthood. One novel and potentially valuable approach to operationalizing emotional complexity is to use reports of emotions obtained repeatedly in real time, which can generate a number of potential time-based indicators of emotional complexity. It is not known, however, how these indicators relate to each other, to other measures of affective complexity, such as those derived from a cognitive-developmental view of emotional complexity, or to measures of adaptive functioning, such as well-being. A sample of 109 adults, aged 23 to 90 years, participated in an experience-sampling study and reported their negative and positive affect five times a day for one week. Based on these reports, we calculated nine different time-based indicators potentially reflecting emotional complexity. Analyses showed three major findings: First, the indicators showed a diverse pattern of interrelations suggestive of four distinct components of emotional complexity. Second, age was generally not related to time-based indicators of emotional complexity; however, older adults showed overall low variability in negative affect. Third, time-based indicators of emotional complexity were either unrelated or inversely related to measures of adaptive functioning; that is, these measures tended to predict a less adaptive profile, such as lower subjective and psychological well-being. In sum, time-based indicators of emotional complexity displayed a more complex and less beneficial picture than originally thought. In particular, variability in negative affect seems to indicate suboptimal adjustments. Future research would benefit from collecting empirical data for the interrelations and correlates of time-based indicators of emotional complexity in different contexts. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2012 APA, all rights reserved).

Concepts: Psychology, Affect, Emotion, Affective neuroscience, Feeling, Affect display, Affect theory, Affect measures