Psychological Resilience and Positive Emotional Granularity: Examining the Benefits of Positive Emotions on Coping and Health


  • Michele M. Tugade, Department of Psychology, Vassar College; Barbara L. Fredrickson, Department of Psychology and Research Center for Group Dynamics at the Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan; and Lisa Feldman Barrett, Department of Psychology, Boston College.
    Preparation of this paper was supported by a National Service Research Award from the NIMH (F32-MH64267) to Michele Tugade; grants from the NIMH (MH53971 and MH59615) and funds from the John Templeton Foundation to Barbara Fredrickson; and NSF grants SBR-9727896, BCS 0074688 and NIMH grant K02 MH001981 to Lisa Feldman Barrett.

should be addressed to Michele M. Tugade at the Department of Psychology, Vassar College, 124 Raymond Ave., Poughkeepsie, NY, 12604. Electronic mail:


Abstract For centuries, folk theory has promoted the idea that positive emotions are good for your health. Accumulating empirical evidence is providing support for this anecdotal wisdom. We use the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions (Fredrickson, 1998; 2001) as a framework to demonstrate that positive emotions contribute to psychological and physical well-being via more effective coping. We argue that the health benefits advanced by positive emotions may be instantiated in certain traits that are characterized by the experience of positive emotion. Towards this end, we examine individual differences in psychological resilience (the ability to bounce back from negative events by using positive emotions to cope) and positive emotional granularity (the tendency to represent experiences of positive emotion with precision and specificity). Individual differences in these traits are examined in two studies, one using psychophysiological evidence, the second using evidence from experience sampling, to demonstrate that positive emotions play a crucial role in enhancing coping resources in the face of negative events. Implications for research on coping and health are discussed.