SUCCESS Materials – English

Positivity – Theoretical Background – BBT

Broaden and Build Theory of Positive Emotions (BBT):

The Broaden and Build Theory of Positive Emotions (BBT) suggests that the frequent use and experience of positive emotions has a number of positive impacts on an individual’s mental health. First of all, according to broaden and build theory, people broaden their cognitive functions (e.g. analytical thinking, comprehension, attention) and their problem-solving behaviours (Fredrickson, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2013; Fredrickson & Branigan, 2005). This broadening effect also helps individuals to build social, intellectual, psychological and physical personal resources (Fredrickson et al., 2008). This enables individuals are to think more openly about information and respond more flexibly and creatively when presented with scenarios which initially appear to be problematic (e.g. Bolte, Goschke, & Kuhl, 2003; Compton et al., 2004; Dreisbach, 2006; Estrada et al., 1997; Kahn, & Isen, 1993; Phillips, Wellman, & Spelke 2002; Pyone, & Isen, 2011).

In addition to the above, another body of research which has supported the primary hypotheses of the Broaden-and-Build theory is the “Undoing Hypothesis” (Fredrickson, 2001; Fredrickson & Levenson, 1998; Fredrickson, Mancuso, Branigan, & Tugade, 2000). More specifically, it has been suggested that experiencing positive emotions “undoes” or “cancels” the negative effects of experiencing negative emotions. Negative emotions provoke downward spirals, which lie at the root of a multitude of negative beliefs, rigid acts and low-quality relationships (Garland et al., 2010). Fortunately, it has been determined that positive emotions can counterbalance the effect of downward spirals (negative emotions) by producing upward spirals, hence, positive beliefs and good quality relationships. (Fredrickson, Tugade, Waugh, & Larkin, 2003; Tugade & Fredrickson, 2004).