How Positive Emotions Foster Resilience and Improve Memory
In addition to promoting good physical and psychological health, positive emotions have been found to relate to both resilience and memory.
A study from Peng and colleagues (2014) found that positive emotions and resilience are positively correlated, indicating that one leads to the other or they share a bi-directional relationship. We also know that resilience is significantly related to emotional regulation, suggesting that the experience of many positive emotions (and the management of negative emotions) allows some individuals to “bounce back” better than others (Tugade & Fredrickson, 2004). Finally, a study by Cohn and colleagues found that positive emotions have a direct effect on resilience, which in turn helps build a strong sense of life satisfaction (2009).
These effects may be due to the “broadening and building” that positive emotions seem to provoke; the more positive emotions a person experiences, the stronger their perception of a positive baseline state to “bounce back” to after failure or tragedy. Additionally, experiencing consistent positive emotions might encourage a person to seek out a wide variety of sources of meaning and fulfillment, sources they can depend on to pull them back up to their feet when they get knocked down.
Overall, there is evidence to suggest that positive emotions can protect against memory impairment (MacKenzie, Powell, & Donaldson, 2015). It is unclear how this protection may work, although it may be explained through the Broaden-and-Build Theory as well. Positive emotions may expand focus and memory capacity and enhance the ability to remember both central and peripheral details (Yegiyan & Yonelinas, 2011).
Both enhanced resilience and better memory can provide benefits in many domains of life, including in the workplace. In fact, there are several ways that positive emotions can lead to better productivity and more effective work.
Tomorrow I will be sharing the last part of Positive Emotions.
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