How do personality traits influence the experience of positive emotions?
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Neuroticism is a personality trait known to be associated with negative emotions (Tellegan, 1985), but little is known about how it affects the experience of positive emotions, and more specifically, hope. Positive emotions can have long lasting effects on well-being, by broadening thought-action repertoires and undoing lingering negative emotions (Frederickson, 1998). Cognitive strategies strongly influence state positive emotions in individuals low in neuroticism, but have no effect on those with high neuroticism (Ng & Diener, 2009). We expected individuals high in neuroticism would experience a smaller increase in state hope following hope emotion induction. Participants completed an online survey involving a personality test and trait positive and negative emotion questionnaires. Prior to and following being randomly assigned to either the hope (n = 147) or nurturant love (n = 142) induction procedure, participants completed questionnaires on state positive and negative emotions. The results revealed the hope induction procedures of autobiographical recall and imagery were not effective at inducing state hope, but increased state positive emotions and decreased state negative emotions. Neuroticism was negatively correlated with trait hope and trait positive emotions and positively correlated with trait negative emotions. Exploratory analyses of control questions regarding how often participants thought of hopeful memories and whether they believe engaging in this daily to be beneficial were also performed. It was concluded that neuroticism is negatively associated with the experience of trait and state positive emotions, but not state hope. The limitations of the study design and future research are also discussed.
Shotton, E. (2021) 'How do personality traits influence the experience of positive emotions?', The Plymouth Student Scientist, 14(2), pp. 607-635.