JOURNAL ARTICLE

What good are positive emotions in crises? A prospective study of resilience and emotions following the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11th, 2001

Barbara L Fredrickson, Michele M Tugade, Christian E Waugh, Gregory R Larkin
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2003, 84 (2): 365-76
12585810
Extrapolating from B. L. Fredrickson's (1998, 2001) broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions, the authors hypothesized that positive emotions are active ingredients within trait resilience. U.S. college students (18 men and 28 women) were tested in early 2001 and again in the weeks following the September 11th terrorist attacks. Mediational analyses showed that positive emotions experienced in the wake of the attacks--gratitude, interest, love, and so forth--fully accounted for the relations between (a) precrisis resilience and later development of depressive symptoms and (b) precrisis resilience and postcrisis growth in psychological resources. Findings suggest that positive emotions in the aftermath of crises buffer resilient people against depression and fuel thriving, consistent with the broaden-and-build theory. Discussion touches on implications for coping.

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