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Positive EmotionIntegrating the Light Sides and Dark Sides$
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June Gruber and Judith Tedlie Moskowitz

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199926725

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199926725.001.0001

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Positive Affect Interventions to Reduce Stress

Positive Affect Interventions to Reduce Stress

Harnessing the Benefit While Avoiding the Pollyanna

(p.515) Chapter 27 Positive Affect Interventions to Reduce Stress
Positive Emotion

Laura R. Saslow

Michael Cohn

Judith Tedlie Moskowitz

Oxford University Press

Positive affect has a wide variety of adaptive consequences, including improved coping and better physical health. Positive affect intervention studies have found that it is possible to teach skills that lead to moderate and sustained improvements in positive affect, and that this is a promising method for indirectly reducing stress. We review positive affect interventions, including our own recently piloted intervention, which bring together multiple lines of research in order to offer an array of skills to participants coping with significant life stressors. These studies targeted populations including individuals with serious medical illnesses (e.g., HIV or metastatic breast cancer), affective disorders, or other major sources of stress (e.g., drug addiction, caregiving). Most interventions included skills for noticing, savoring, or planning positive experiences, improving relationships, and pursuing meaning or personal development. We conclude with lessons learned from our and others’ work about research design, measurement issues, and preparing an intervention for broader dissemination. In the spirit of this volume, we also address the potential “dark side” of positive affect interventions, and discuss ways to teach positive affect skills without being unconditionally cheerful or dismissing negative affect.

Keywords:   positive affect, positive emotion, intervention, stress, chronic illness

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