Broaden-And-Build Theory of Positive Emotions

The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions was developed to explain why people experience positive emotions. What purpose might be served by fleeting feelings of joy, gratitude, serenity, or love? Did such pleasant states confer adaptive value over the course of human evolution?

Within prior theories of emotions, positive emotions posed a puzzle. This was because most prior accounts rested on the assumption that all emotions—both pleasant and unpleasant—were adaptive to human ancestors because they produced urges to act in particular ways, by triggering specific action tendencies. Fear, for instance, is linked with the urge to flee, anger with the urge to attack, disgust the urge to expel, and so on. A core idea within the concept of specific action tendencies is that having these particular actions ...

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