Whining, griping, and complaining: Positivity in the negativity


  • Robin M. Kowalski

    Corresponding author
    1. Western Carolina University
    • Dr. Robin Kowalski, Department of Psychology, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC 28723; e-mail: kowalski@wcu.edu
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Recent years have seen a surge of interest in the positive psychology movement. The emphasis of positive psychology is on human virtue rather than on human vice, on human strength rather than human frailty. In an effort to focus on what is good about human nature, however, the positive psychology movement has neglected to examine the redeeming features of seemingly aversive behaviors. Thus, the purpose of the present article is to broaden the scope of positive psychology by examining, in addition to its negative facets, the positive features of one particular aversive behavior, complaining. After defining complaining, we address the personal, relational, interpersonal, and material benefits of complaining to show that there is, indeed, positivity in the negativity. © 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Clin Psychol 58: 1023–1035, 2002.