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J Posit Psychol. 2006 Apr;1(2):93-106.

Nice to know you: Positive emotions, self-other overlap, and complex understanding in the formation of a new relationship.

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University of Michigan, USA.


Based on Fredrickson's ((1998). What good are positive emotions? Review of General Psychology, 2, 300-319.; (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist, 56, 218-226) broaden-and-build theory and Aron and Aron's ((1986). Love as expansion of the self: Understanding attraction and satisfaction. New York: Hemisphere) self-expansion theory, it was hypothesized that positive emotions broaden people's feelings of self-other overlap in the beginning of a new relationship. In a prospective study of first-year college students, we found that, after 1 week in college, positive emotions predicted increased self-other overlap with new roommates, which in turn predicted a more complex understanding of the roommate. In addition, participants who experienced a high ratio of positive to negative emotions throughout the first month of college reported a greater increase in self-other overlap and complex understanding than participants with a low positivity ratio. Implications for the role of positive emotions in the formation of new relationships are discussed.

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