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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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Origins and Functions of Positive Affect

Origins and Functions of Positive Affect

A Goal Regulation Perspective

(p.34) Chapter 3 Origins and Functions of Positive Affect
Positive Emotion

Charles S. Carver

Michael F. Scheier

Sheri L. Johnson

Oxford University Press

This chapter describes a goal regulation model of positive affect. The overall model is one in which affect derives from the moment-to-moment sense of velocity with respect to goal attainment in comparison with some reference value. Negative affect is seen as arising when progress is perceived as slower than expected; positive affect is seen as arising when progress is perceived as faster than expected. Core features of the goal regulation model are described; then we address more specifically the implications of this model for positive affect. Two somewhat counter-intuitive tenets of the model are identified with respect to positive affect. First, although some theories hold that only approach goals are relevant to positive affect, this model holds that positive affect can arise either from unexpectedly rapid progress toward approach goals or from unexpectedly rapid progress away from avoidance goals. Second, because positive affect in this model signals that one has exceeded expected (or needed) progress, it is predicted to lead to a reduction in subsequent effort toward that goal. Because of this, positive affect tends not to be sustained for long periods of time. The reduction of effort following from positive affect is seen as a contributor to the ability to shift among multiple goals (by assisting in prioritizing them), and to take advantage of unexpected opportunities. After describing this view of the normative processes involved in goal regulation and positive affect, we consider one clinical phenomenon which appears to involve poor function of this system: bipolar disorder. We end with a discussion of future research goals.

Keywords:   self-regulation, goals, goal regulation, positive affect, coasting, bipolar disorder, goal prioritization, mania

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