Turning the Tables
Turning the Tables
How We React to Others’ Happiness
Most research on positive emotions is individualistic in nature. It addresses the nature, causes and cognitive and behavioral consequences of positive emotions as they occur within a single person. Yet we are social creatures. It is important to examine not only the intrapersonal effects of happiness but also the interpersonal effects of happiness (Clark, 2002). To be sure, some researchers who focus on happiness as it occurs within individuals addressed how it influences their thoughts about and behavior toward others and, in turn, how happiness influences the building and maintenance of relationships (Fredrickson, 2001, 2008, and others). Yet to fully understand the interpersonal as well as the intrapersonal processes through which happiness influences people’s lives, it is important to consider how the people who surround happy individuals react to their happiness per se. We review what is known in this regard and emphasize that such reactions are often dependent upon the nature of relationships that exist or are desired with the happy person. Ultimately, to fully understand the role of positive emotion in people’s lives, we must integrate research conducted from the perspective of the happy person with that conducted from partners’ perspectives, and, as we do so, to take social functions of emotion, relational context, and other emotions into account. So, too, will it be important to study social interactions as they unfold across time.
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