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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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Another Little Piece of My Heart

Another Little Piece of My Heart

Positive Emotions and the Autonomic Nervous System

(p.78) Chapter 6 Another Little Piece of My Heart
Positive Emotion

Michelle N. Shiota

Alexander F. Danvers

Oxford University Press

Theories of emotion often posit that visceral physiological changes mediated by the autonomic nervous system are a fundamental aspect of emotional responding. Early empirical studies of “happiness” suggested that positive emotions have limited autonomic involvement, as compared with negative emotions. More recently, however, studies examining a wider variety of positive emotion states and differentiating among several neural mechanisms within the autonomic nervous system have uncovered considerable evidence for autonomic reactivity in positive emotion. This chapter (1) reviews the structure of the autonomic nervous system and key methodological issues for research on emotion psychophysiology; (2) summarizes four major theories of autonomic involvement in positive emotion (“undoing” of distress-related arousal, polyvagal theory, approach motivation, and autonomic specificity) and the state of the evidence for each theory; and (3) offers tentative conclusions and future directions for the emerging field of positive emotion psychophysiology, as well as implications for the light and dark sides of positive emotion.

Keywords:   positive emotion, autonomic nervous system, psychophysiology, cardiovascular, electrodermal, arousal

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