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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 Emotion and the Brain

Positive Emotion and the Brain

The Neuroscience of Happiness

(p.95) Chapter 7 Positive Emotion and the Brain
Positive Emotion

Tabitha Kirkland Turowski

Vincent Y. Man

William A. Cunningham

Oxford University Press

Happiness is often sought, but the mechanisms that underlie happiness and positive emotion are only beginning to be understood. In this chapter, we suggest that current concepts and theories of positive emotion can benefit from a perspective informed by affective neuroscience due to the non-reliance on self-report and the ability to specify mechanism. We explore the neuroscientific basis of positive emotion and happiness through the organizational lens of two broad themes: (1) reward versus threat sensitivity and (2) motivated versus hedonic behavior. Specifically, we review the literature on reward, which focuses on behavior following stimulus presentation, including approach behavior toward rewards, as well as the literature on motivational versus hedonic processes, which focuses on the differentiation between motivation to gain positive stimuli and the enjoyment of those stimuli. We present evidence that the neural mechanisms that contribute to happiness are seen throughout nearly all stages of processing, ranging from very early perceptual processes to advanced reflective processing. Moreover, these “happinesses” are linked to different aspects of psychological functioning. We conclude by discussing an organizing framework for future research.

Keywords:   anticipation, happiness, hedonism, neuroscience, pleasure, reward, savoring, well-being

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