Positivity resonance in long-term married couples: Multimodal characteristics and consequences for health and longevity

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2022 Nov;123(5):983-1003. doi: 10.1037/pspi0000385. Epub 2022 Jan 31.


The Positivity Resonance Theory of coexperienced positive affect describes moments of interpersonal connection characterized by shared positive affect, caring nonverbal synchrony, and biological synchrony. The construct validity of positivity resonance and its longitudinal associations with health have not been tested. The current longitudinal study examined whether positivity resonance in conflict interactions between 154 married couples predicts health trajectories over 13 years and longevity over 30 years. We used couples' continuous ratings of affect during the interactions to capture coexperienced positive affect and continuous physiological responses to capture biological synchrony between spouses. Video recordings were behaviorally coded for coexpressed positive affect, synchronous nonverbal affiliation cues (SNAC), and behavioral indicators of positivity resonance (BIPR). To evaluate construct validity, we conducted a confirmatory factor analysis to test a latent factor of positivity resonance encompassing coexperienced positive affect, coexpressed positive affect, physiological linkage of interbeat heart intervals, SNAC, and BIPR. The model showed excellent fit. To evaluate associations with health and longevity, we used dyadic latent growth curve modeling and Cox proportional hazards modeling, respectively, and found that greater latent positivity resonance predicted less steep declines in health and increased longevity. Associations were robust when accounting for initial health symptoms, sociodemographic characteristics, health-related behaviors, and individually experienced positive affect. We repeated health and longevity analyses, replacing latent positivity resonance with BIPR, and found consistent results. Findings validate positivity resonance as a multimodal construct, support the utility of the BIPR measure, and provide initial evidence for the characterization of positivity resonance as a positive health behavior. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Longevity*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Spouses*