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Can Positive Emotions Boost Profitability?

Do you think boosting positive emotions promotes individual health and company profitability?

What are Positive Emotions?

Positive emotions are not simply “happy feelings” that we chase to feel momentary pleasure. They play a significant role in everyday life and allow individuals, communities, and societies to flourish

Examples of Positive Emotions include:

  • Gratitude – a feeling of thankfulness, for something specific or simply all-encompassing, often accompanied by humility and even reverence.

  • Serenity – a calm and peaceful feeling of acceptance of oneself.

  • Interest – a feeling of curiosity or fascination that demands and captures your attention.

  • Hope – a feeling of optimism and anticipation about a positive future.

  • Pride – a sense of approval of oneself and pleasure in an achievement, skill, or personal attribute.

  • Amusement – a feeling of lighthearted pleasure and enjoyment, often accompanied by smiles and easy laughter.

  • Inspiration – feeling engaged, uplifted, and motivated by something you witnessed


The Broaden-and-Build Theory

Negative emotions like fear and anxiety have benefitted our ancestors. For example, the fight-flight-or-freeze response when our primary goal was survival.

The Broaden-and-Build Theory states that the benefits of positive emotions may not be immediate, but they're worth the investment.

"Resources build up over time and increase the individual's overall well-being. This forms a positive cycle: increased well-being leads to more positive emotions which lead to higher resilience, which leads to increased well-being."

- Barbara Fredrickson, author of Positivity

Impact on Long-Term Health

Positive Emotions are not only good for emotional wellbeing but there is evidence that they protect our physical health in the long-run.

One study found that those who experienced more positive emotions were less likely to have become disabled or died in a two-year follow-up.

Resilience and Recovery

It's not just a long-term health benefit. Positive Emotions can speed up recovery - physically and emotionally.

In 2010, researchers invited participants were invited to watch 2 films: a scary film which generated a lot of negative emotions, like fear and anxiety. And then they randomly divided participants into 4 groups and showed them another film on contentment; amusement; neutrality; or sadness.

Those with that viewed the film conveying contentment and amusement experienced quicker recovery. For example, lowered heart rate and blood pressure.

Research shows positive emotions promote resiliency and an improved ability to “bounce back” from negative experiences in life.

On an Organizational Level

Positive emotions prove extremely beneficial on an organizational level too.

At B.F. Goodrich, researchers looked at the impact of a simple positive ritual, like appreciation on staff productivity. It increased 300% with the introduction of an inexpensive praise and recognition program. Isn't that amazing?

They observed the 60 teams studied, and the kind of language flowing during meetings.

The most most successful teams (those that achieved outstanding results in profitability, customer satisfaction and 360° feedback evaluations) tended to have the highest ratio of positive to negative statements made during meetings.

The ratio being 5.6:1 for the highest performing teams.

Think about it. Just talking about positivity and use of positive statements that express appreciation, support, helpfulness, approval, or giving compliments can boost profitability. It's a simple technique any manager can enforce.

Positive Emotions also promotes innovation. For example, Joy, broadens by creating the urge to play and push the limits. This promotes creativity, contributing to organizational success in the long-run.

"Positivity doesn't just change the contents of your mind...It widens the span of possibilities that you see." - Barbara Fredrickson
“Positivity is the world’s most underutilized, naturally occurring resource available to fuel success and forward progress.” - Michelle Gielan

If you want to use the power of positive emotions to promote success at your organization, check out our Wellbeing and Positive Education workshops.

Check out our video about the Power of Positive Emotions!


  1. Fredrickson, B. (2009). Positivity. Harmony.

  2. Fredrickson, B. L. (2013). Updated thinking on positivity ratios.

  3. Ellsworth, P. C., & Smith, C. A. (1988). Shades of joy: Patterns of appraisal differentiating pleasant emotions. Cognition & Emotion, 2(4), 301-331.

  4. Frijda, N. H. (1986). The emotions. Cambridge University Press.

  5. Tugade, M. M., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2004). Resilient individuals use positive emotions to bounce back from negative emotional experiences. Journal of personality and social psychology, 86(2), 320.

  6. Ostir, G. V., Markides, K. S., Black, S. A., & Goodwin, J. S. (2000). Emotional well‐being predicts subsequent functional independence and survival. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 48(5), 473-478.

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