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Positive Affectivity

Kristin Naragon and David Watson

Subject Psychology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405161251.2009.x


Positive affectivity is a trait that refers to stable individual differences in the experience of positive emotions and active engagement with one's surroundings. Along with negative affectivity (the parallel tendency to experience negative emotions), positive affectivity is one of the two basic dimensions that define long-term affective experiences. Individuals who are high in positive affectivity tend to be cheerful, enthusiastic, energetic, confident, and alert. In contrast, those who are low in positive affectivity tend to experience lower levels of happiness, excitement, vigor, and confidence. Positive affectivity is a moderately stable trait over time and individuals tend to report consistent levels across different situations, such as being alone, interacting with others, or working. Positive and negative affectivity are relatively independent of one another, which means that they can occur in a widely varying range of combinations (e.g., an individual can be high in both traits or low in both traits). They may be seen as the subjective components of larger biobehavioral systems that have evolved to promote the survival of animals. Positive affectivity is related to the behavioral facilitation system, an approach system that directs organisms towards rewarding and pleasurable situations, such as food, shelter, and sex. This system is linked primarily to dopamine activity ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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