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Psychol Sci. 2013 Jan 1;24(1):19-26. doi: 10.1177/0956797612446351. Epub 2012 Nov 12.

Unlocking past emotion: verb use affects mood and happiness.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487, USA. wphart@ua.edu

Abstract

In the research reported here, I examined whether the verbs applied to descriptions of past emotional experiences influence present mood and happiness. Participants who described a positive experience using the imperfective aspect, which implies ongoing progression, subsequently reported more positive mood and greater happiness than did participants who described a positive experience using the perfective aspect, which implies completion; likewise, participants who described a negative experience using the imperfective aspect subsequently reported more negative mood and less happiness than did participants who described a negative experience using the perfective aspect. These effects were traced to enhanced memory for the described emotional experience in the imperfective condition relative to the perfective condition. The findings demonstrate how formal features of language shape both the reinstatement of past affective reactions and happiness judgments, and may have practical applications for improving subjective well-being.

PMID:
23150276
DOI:
10.1177/0956797612446351
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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