Positivity effect

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For the psychological effect in older adults, see Socioemotional selectivity theory.

In psychology and cognitive science, the positivity effect is a term given to three different phenomena. It is the ability to constructively analyze a situation where the desired results are not achieved; but still obtain positive feedback which assists our future progression. When considering people we like (including ourselves), we tend to make situational attributions about their negative behaviors and dispositional attributions about their positive behaviors. The reverse may be true for people we do not like.[tone] This may well be because of the dissonance between liking a person and seeing them behave negatively. Example: If a friend hits someone, one would tell them the other guy deserved it or that he had to defend himself.

In attribution[edit]

Main article: Selective perception

The positivity effect pertains to the tendency of people, when evaluating the causes of the behaviors of a person they like or prefer, to attribute the person's inherent disposition as the cause of their positive behaviors and the situations surrounding them as the cause of their negative behaviors. The positivity effect is the inverse of the negativity effect, which is found when people evaluate the causes of the behaviors of a person they dislike. Both effects are attributional biases.

In perception[edit]

On online social networks like Twitter, users prefer to share positive news, and are emotionally affected by positive news more than twice than by negative news.[1][2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ferrara, Emilio; Yang, Zeyao (2015). "Measuring Emotional Contagion in Social Media". PLoS ONE. 10 (1): e0142390. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0142390. 
  2. ^ Ferrara, Emilio; Yang, Zeyao (2015). "Quantifying the effect of sentiment on information diffusion in social media". Peer J Computer Science. 1: e26. doi:10.7717/peerj-cs.26. 


Dictionaries and encyclopedias[edit]


  • Taylor, S.E.; Koivumaki, J.H. (1976). "The perception of self and others: Acquaintanceship, affect and actor-observer differences". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 33 (4): 403–408. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.33.4.403. 
  • Winquist, Lynn A.; Mohr, Cynthia D.; Kenny, David A. (1998). "The Female Positivity Effect in the Perception of Others". Journal of Research in Personality. 32 (3): 370–388. doi:10.1006/jrpe.1998.2221. 
  • Mezulis, A. H.; Abramson, L. Y.; Hyde, J. S.; Hankin, B. L. (2004). "Is there a universal positivity bias in attributions? A meta-analytic review of individual, developmental, and cultural differences in the self-serving attributional bias". Psychological Bulletin. 130 (5): 711–747. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.130.5.711. PMID 15367078.