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. 2005 Oct;60(7):678-86.
doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.60.7.678.

Positive Affect and the Complex Dynamics of Human Flourishing

Free PMC article

Positive Affect and the Complex Dynamics of Human Flourishing

Barbara L Fredrickson et al. Am Psychol. .
Free PMC article

Erratum in

  • Am Psychol. 2013 Dec;68(9):822


Extending B. L. Fredrickson's (1998) broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions and M. Losada's (1999) nonlinear dynamics model of team performance, the authors predict that a ratio of positive to negative affect at or above 2.9 will characterize individuals in flourishing mental health. Participants (N=188) completed an initial survey to identify flourishing mental health and then provided daily reports of experienced positive and negative emotions over 28 days. Results showed that the mean ratio of positive to negative affect was above 2.9 for individuals classified as flourishing and below that threshold for those not flourishing. Together with other evidence, these findings suggest that a set of general mathematical principles may describe the relations between positive affect and human flourishing.


Figure 1
Figure 1
The Complex Dynamics of Three Types of Business Teams Note. The dynamical structures, as represented by trajectories in phase space, generated by Losada’s (1999) model to describe high-performance (dark gray), medium-performance (light gray), and low-performance (white) teams. The vertical axis represents emotional space. The formula connecting P/N to emotional space is P/N = (Ei)b−1, where E is emotional space, i is the initial value of positivity/negativity (equal to 16), and b−1 is the Lorenz inverse constant (equal to 0.375). P/N = 1 when E = 18.66 (Losada & Heaphy, 2004). Values above and below 18.66 indicate predominance of positivity and negativity, respectively. The horizontal axis represents degrees of inquiry versus advocacy: The left represents asking questions, and the right represents advocating one’s own viewpoint.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Effects of Too Much Positivity Note. The dynamical structure produced by running Losada’s (1999) model with P/N = 100. As in Figure 1, the vertical axis represents emotional space, and the horizontal axis represents degrees of inquiry versus advocacy.

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