Understanding Everyday Love: Do Increases in Positivity Resonance Increase Virtuous Behavior?

  • TWCF Number:


  • Project Duration:

    1 September 2018 - 31 August 2020

  • Core Funding Area:

    Big Questions

  • Region:

    North America

  • Amount Awarded:


Barbara Lee Fredrickson

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

A recent global survey suggests that most people consider romantic love to be their primary source of happiness. Barbara L. Fredrickson believes that love can be best defined in terms of small moments of shared positivity, and that this should, in fact, be the form of love that defines day-to-day life, and day-to-day joy. Positivity resonance, according to Fredrickson, is found in brief moments in which two or more people experience shared positive affect, mutual care and concern, or synchrony in behavior and biology. Her team has published an article showing that frequent positive resonance in daily life predict superior mental and physical health.

Frederickson proposes an experiment to show that positivity resonance strengthens the self-transcendent virtues of spirituality, altruism, and humility, and reduces the self-centered vices of materialism, hostility, and entitlement. In this basic scientific experiment—a randomized controlled trial—she will test the effectiveness of a 28-day micro-intervention to increase perceived positivity resonance and self-transcendent virtues. At the conclusion of the experiment, her team will produce two or more empirical articles submitted to peer-reviewed scientific journals with corresponding presentations at scientific conferences, as well as a proposal for a further grant to develop and test a mobile app version of the micro-intervention.


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