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Journal of Depression and Anxiety

Journal of Depression and Anxiety
Open Access

ISSN: 2167-1044

Abstract

Too Much of a Good Thing: Curvilinear Effect of the Positivity Ratio on Emotional Dysfunction and Perceived Resources in Adolescent Females

Matthew H Lehrer, Katherine C Janus, Christian T Gloria and Mary A Steinhardt

Background: The benefits of a broadened mind set across moments of positivity accumulate over time and build enduring personal resources. Positivity can transform one’s life for the better, enhancing health and building greater resilience to adversity. Evidence is strong that positivity is a key active ingredient in flourishing mental health, however, less is known about the upper limit of positivity for optimal functioning.

Aim: This study examined if exceedingly high positivity ratios – experienced positive to negative emotions – were associated with increased emotional dysfunction (stress, depressive symptoms) and downturned perceived personal (resilience, hope) and environmental (social support, school connectedness) resources.

Methods: Participants (N=510) attending an all-girls public school completed a survey assessing positive/negative emotions (the positivity ratio), emotional dysfunction, and perceived personal and environmental resources. Linear and quadratic regression equations for the relationship between the positivity ratio and emotional dysfunction and perceived resources were modeled and compared.

Results: The relationships between the positivity ratio and both emotional dysfunction and perceived resources were best fit by quadratic equations, indicative of enhanced functioning up to a point, beyond which functioning decreased at the highest levels of positivity.

Conclusion: More frequent experiences of positive emotions and/or less frequent experiences of negative emotions are adaptive, within bounds, in promoting emotional functioning and helping adolescents perceive greater availability of personal and environmental resources.

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