Category: Analysis Essay


The paper given is the comparison of two scholarly articles’ points of view on the issue of positive emotions in the people’s lives and their use. The two articles which have been chosen for the research are “What Good are Positive Emotions?”by Fredrickson (1998) and “The Benefits of Frequent Positive Affect: Does Happiness Lead to Success?” by Lyubomirsky, King, and Diener (2005). The comparison has showed that the ideas in both articles complement each other. It means that the authors have a similar vision on what the positive emotions are, how they are born, how they function and what advantages they bring to the person. Furthermore, the additional information used for the comparison is supported by the later article by Fredrickson (2001), whose investigation shows the similar points of view with Lyubomirsky, King, and Diener (2005).

Keywords: positive emotions, use, success, article, comparison.

Positive Emotions

Emotions are inherent in both humans and animals. Emotions are known to appear in the process of the evolution of living beings, as vital adaptive mechanisms. They are believed to be necessary for the adaptation of the organism to the conditions and situations of its life. Emotions are needed to mobilize the body’s internal reserves. For instance, with their help, animals escape from danger, with their help they hunt. In humans, emotions are more complex. The more complex a living being is, the higher it takes on the evolutionary level, the richer is the range of all possible emotional states that it is capable of experiencing. This paper compares the views of Fredrickson (1998) and Lyubomirsky, King, and Diener (2005) toward the issue of positive emotions in the life of people. Therefore, the two works complement each other to a certain extent and provide the thoughtful arguments on the nature and use of positive emotions.

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The emotional world permeates all aspects of life. A person, in the process of growing up and gaining knowledge, begins to relate, one way or another, to the surrounding world and its components. S/he is not a dispassionate observer, but on the contrary, an active actor. According to the article, “What Good are Positive Emotions?”, by Fredrickson (1998), a person not only experiences the influence of other people and their actions, but also influences others. A person experiences what happens to him and is done to him/her; s/he relates in a certain way to what surrounds him/her. Experience is the attitude of a person to the environment, and it serves to form a sphere of feelings and emotions.

The spiritual aspects of a person’s life are filled with a multitude of successive experiences. Fredrickson (1998) also points to the fact that it can be sorrow, joy, admiration, surprise, contempt, sadness, fear, anxiety, anger, tenderness, grief, happiness and so on in the subjective relationship of man to reality. Positive emotions arise due to the fact that the goal was achieved, and vice versa, negative emotions and experiences arise as a result of obstacles in the implementation of the goal and satisfaction of needs. Emotions express the state of the subject and his relation to the object which can differ in polarity, i.e. have a positive and negative sign: fun-sadness, pleasure-displeasure and others. Despite their contradictory nature, human positive and negative emotions and feelings often form a complex unity: together with jealousy, passionate love gets along with burning hatred.

A similar, complementing point of view is found in the article “The Benefits of Frequent Positive Affect: Does Happiness Lead to Success?”, issued by Lyubomirsky et al. (2005). The authors state that the emotional component is important not only as a component of the creative process, but also as an important element of social relations (Lyubomirsky et al., 2005). The degree of emotional expressiveness has a significant impact on the nature of interpersonal relationships. Excessive restraint leads to the fact that a person is perceived as cold, indifferent, arrogant. In some cases, this causes only surprise, while in others it engenders hostility and becomes an obstacle to the establishment of normal relations between people. Excessive or insufficient emotional expressiveness, its inadequacy to conditions is one of the most important sources of conflict in interpersonal relationships (Lyubomirsky et al., 2005). Thus, special attention should be given to emotional relationships between students in the group and between the teacher and students (Lyubomirsky et al., 2005). The scholars believe that a relaxed atmosphere in the classroom and positive emotions promote students’ cognitive activity (Lyubomirskyet al., 2005). With the prevalence of negative emotions and relationships in the team, the quality of training is significantly reduced.

The cognitive activity of a person, his/her interaction with the surrounding world, which s/he is conscious of, is an inalienable part of a person’s essence. Besides, the mental image, which kept in mind, reveals and reflects in the language other and equally important characteristics of a person (Lyubomirsky et al., 2005). Also, the process of speech-activity reveals an emotional person (Lyubomirsky et al., 2005). The language of positive emotions has limitless possibilities for conveying the most subtle nuances of feelings experienced, evaluating of what is happening through sensory experience, influencing the addressee of a message and expressing oneself (Lyubomirsky et al., 2005). Indeed, it is difficult to imagine a speech of a person which is deprived of the emotional-sensory component regardless of culture and language.

The high coefficient of the positive emotional component in the linguistic canvas of the world’s cultural picture is shown, in particular, by the data of explanatory dictionaries, the pages of which abound with emotionally colored vocabulary. According to the obsevations of psychologists and sociologists, it should be noted that positive human emotions are presented in the language to a much lesser degree than the negative ones (Fredickson, 2001). This can be explained by the fact that negative emotions are much more likely to make both the process of communication and the language explication in the process of verbal communication casual (Fredickson, 2001). Speaking about the specifics of the positive emotions representation in a language, it is necessary to bear in mind that the emotion of happiness, which is considered ‘prototypical,’ or, in other words, the ‘best representative’ of positive emotions, has a complex and ambiguous nature (Fredickson, 2001). While most emotions represent a reaction to certain events, the concept of happiness in the language most often involves assessing life in general or its such important aspects as personal life and work.

The inner underlying cause of psychologicalization of the need for emotional saturation is the formation of emotional representations. As a result, the person in his/her behavior begins to focus not only on the emotion actually experienced, but also on the ‘anticipated’ experience. This factor makes the functions of positive emotions become much more complicated. They are used to ‘sanction’ a successful behavioral act, motivated by a negative emotion; now they themselves become a motivating force (Fredickson, 2001). Man’s behavior is not only ‘pushed behind,’ which is negative emotions and suffering, but also they are ‘pulled in front,’ i.e. a foretaste of positive experiences, as, for example, it happens with anyone, who has developed a healthy appetite, goes to dinner, partly drawn by the upcoming pleasure. With this state of affairs, a person's emotions still serve some vital need of the body, and emotional saturation still occurs as a parallel process. However, the positive emotion of pleasure appears to some extent as some independent value. In certain cases, its subjective significance grows to such an extent that a person begins to strive toward it regardless of the organic need condition. Moreover, one is happy to specifically evoke such a state, in order to enjoy the positive emotions pleasures.

According to Lyubomirsky et al. (2005), desire, in this case, is already the very ‘suffering’ itself. Since this happened, it is not so much the emotion that begins to serve the need, but a certain need is itself put at the service of a loved emotional satiety. In the most vulgar and open form, this was manifested in the behavior of those Roman patricians who, using special techniques, forced themselves to regurgitate the eaten, in order to enjoy delicious food again and again. The same meaning, in general, has the use of various spices, which increase appetite. Furthermore, it can be noted that against the background of the usual positive emotional correlation of interests, dreams and memories in some individuals, the first form of active emotional saturation correlates with the other two clearly negatively (Lyubomirsky et al., 2005). This means that these personalities live in their dreams and memories with a completely different emotional life than that of their own interests, which pushes forward the problem of finding out the cause of such a ‘rupture’ and its impact on the behavior and character of the persons concerned.

According to Fredrickson (1998), partially similarly to Lyubomirsky et al. (2005), another feature of emotional states is experiencing through a variety of emotions. Hence, the mood can be joyful, sorrowful, and/or sad. Effect is also experienced through a variety of emotions. For example, joy in a state of affect is unrestrained joy, and suffering in a state of affect is akin to madness (Fredrickson, 1998). Through a variety of emotions – even positive – the stress is experienced. As a rule, with the help of positive emotions, a person feels jubilation, delight, pleasure, etc., and with the help of negative emotions distress is experienced (Fredrickson, 1998). In a state of frustration, the emotional background, as a rule, is negative: displeasure, anger, rage, etc. Thus, the stability and length of emotional states in the psyche allows them to be viewed from a motivational position. Emotional states are both the driver of human activity, and the motive. If, in the first case, human behavior is searchive, then in the situation of the motive, the emotional state is, to a certain extent, expedient, which means it has a directed character. The behavior of a person, prompted by an emotional state, is aimed at getting emotions. These can be emotions that are identical to the original, other emotions or opposites.

Studies by Lyubomirsky et al. (2005) have shown that intense thoughts of different coloring, as well as a change in the mood of a person, can change the chemical composition of the blood, and also affect the speed, intensity and other performance of various organs. It is noticed that negative thoughts reduce the working capacity of the organism (Lyubomirsky et al., 2005). They are literally and figuratively ‘poison’ for the whole body. If a person is in a state of depression or lethargy for a long time, the central nervous system sends certain signals to the organs of the body. The organs read these signals and decode them as a command to reduce activity (Lyubomirsky et al., 2005). The work of the body begins to slow down.

The low probability of the need to be satisfied usually leads to the emergence of negative emotions. An increase of the probability results, in its turn, in positive emotions. From this, it follows that emotions perform a very important function of evaluating the event, the subject, and, in general, the irritation. In addition, emotions are regulators of behavior, since their mechanisms are aimed at enhancing the active state of the brain (in the case of positive emotions) or its weakening (with negative emotions) (Lyubomirsky et al., 2005). Finally, positive emotions perform a reinforcing role in the formation of conditional reflexes (Lyubomirsky et al, 2005). They play a leading role in this formation. Negative evaluation of any impact on a person, his/her psyche can cause a general systemic reaction of the body, i.e. emotional stress.

Emotional stress is triggered by stressors. These include impacts, situations that the brain estimates as negative, if there is no possibility of them to be protected, getting rid of them. Thus, the cause of emotional stress is the attitude to the corresponding effects (Lyubomirsky et al., 2005). The nature of the reaction therefore depends on the individual’s personal attitude to the situation, the impact and, consequently, on his typological, individual characteristics, the features of awareness of socially significant signals or signal complexes (conflict situations, social or economic uncertainty, anticipation of something unpleasant, etc.).

Due to social motives of the positive emotions in behavior, the so-called emotional stresses are caused by psychogenic factors, such as conflict relations between people (in the collective, on the street, in the family) which are widely spread in modern society. Such a serious disease as myocardial infarction, in 7 cases out of 10, is caused by a conflict situation (Lyubomirsky et al., 2005). An increase in the number of stresses is the price which mankind pays for technological progress. On the one hand, the share of manual labor in the production of material goods and in everyday life has decreased (Lyubomirsky et al., 2005). This, at first glance, is a plus, since it makes life easier for a person. However, on the other hand, a sharp decrease in motor activity disrupted the natural physiological mechanisms of stress, the final link of which should be just movement (Lyubomirsky et al., 2005). Naturally, this has also distorted the nature of the course of life processes in the human body, weakened the margin of its strength.

In conclusion, it should be noted that the peculiarity of the emotional states of a person, as well as his entire emotional sphere, is the position about the orientation towards emotions. Thus, there is a desire to repeat emotions, a desire to experience a similar emotion, as well as a desire for its opposite. Emotions in this vision seem to be a self-sufficient psychic phenomenon that characterizes them not just as an incentive, but as a motivational dominant in the human psyche. This role allows one to move emotions from the effects of mental processes to their beginning, i.e., to the cause. In this position, emotions appear to be the source underlying many of the known psychic drivers of human activity, such as needs, intentions, desires, etc.

Summarizing the above, it is necessary to emphasize the following. First, emotions play a huge role in the learning process in general, and in the development of creativity in particular. Of great importance are the valence and activation of emotions, as well as the ability to control their emotions and recognize others. Emotional expressiveness is important both for the teacher and for the student, as emotions regulate the effectiveness of creative-value interaction. The emotional background of the learning environment promotes the development of value orientations for creativity, self-expression, self-realization, and positive emotions exert a positive influence on creativity, facilitating the expansion of links, associations, freedom of expression of ideas, but in a dynamic relationship with negative emotions.

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