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Positive Emotions

Lupe

One would have to come up with a whole book in order to present theories about positive emotions adequately. Here, we would like to refer mostly to well-established theories on emotions and point to books, articles and websites we consider worthwile reading.

Facial Expression of Emotion (Ekman)

Ekman, P. (2003). Emotions revealed. New York, NY: Henry Holt & Company.
Ekman, P. (2004). Gefühle lesen. München: Elsevier.

The main focus of Ekman‘s research is the facial expression of emotion. Using this as a starting point, his enjoyable book gives many illustrative examples of emotional experiences as well as suggestions for self observation. It‘s well suited for laymen who are interested in emotions and experts in that area alike – the latter will get an autobiographical "bigger picture" of Ekman‘s research. The second reference is the German translation.

Website

Paul Ekman Group, LLC.:
www.paulekman.com

Affective Neuroscience (Panksepp)

Panksepp, J. (1998). Affective Neuroscience. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

This book of Jaak Panksepp overwhelms the reader with a flood of fascinating facts, ideas (and some speculations) about affect in animals and humans. Although the main focus is on animal research, many of his insights also allow conclusions regarding positive emotions in humans. However, be warned that this book requires a sound background in neuroscience for understanding. As an appetizer and restricted to positive emotions, we recommend the following journal article:

Burgdorf, J. & Panksepp, J (2006). The neurobiology of positive emotions. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 30, 173-187.

Website

Washington State University, College of Veterinary Medicine, Veterinary & Comparative Anatomy, Pharmacology & Physiology, Jaak Panksepp:
www.vetmed.wsu.edu/depts-vcapp/people/Panksepp-endowed.asp

Cognitive-Motivational-Relational Theory of Emotion (Lazarus)

Lazarus, R. S. (1991). Emotion and adaption. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Similar to Panksepp, Lazarus also tries to do justice to the manifoldness of emotional processes, but with a focus on the involved cognitive appraisals and their change or re-appraisals during an emotional episode. Using a lot of examples, he contradicts the frequent impression that cognitive theories of emotion are sometimes a little bit "unemotional".

Theory of Somatic Markers (Damasio)

Damasio, A. R. (1994). Descartes‘ Error. New York City, NY: GP Putnam‘s Sons.
Damasio, A. R. (1995). Descartes‘ Irrtum. München: List.

This book is less about emotion per se and more about their significance for human consciousness and decision making. Still, this and Damasio‘s other books were probably a major cause that emotions became popular outside psychology and neuroscience again. The second reference is the German translation.

Website

University of Southern California, Department of Psychology, Antonio R. Damasio:
college.usc.edu/faculty/faculty1008328.html

Flow (Csikszentmihalyi)

The term "flow" was already coined in the Seventies and was somehow rediscovered in recent time.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1975). Beyond Boredom and Anxiety: Experiencing Flow in Work and Play. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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