Context Matters

The Benefits and Costs of Expressing Positive Emotion Among Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse

George A. Bonanno, Deniz M. Colak, Dacher Keltner, Michelle Shiota, Anthony Papa, Jennie G. Noll, Frank W. Putnam, Penelope K. Trickett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

39 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Positive emotions promote adjustment to aversive life events. However, evolutionary theory and empirical research on trauma disclosure suggest that in the context of stigmatized events, expressing positive emotions might incur social costs. To test this thesis, the authors coded genuine (Duchenne) smiling and laughter and also non-Duchenne smiling from videotapes of late-adolescent and young adult women, approximately half with documented histories of childhood sexual abuse (CSA), as they described the most distressing event of their lives. Consistent with previous studies, genuine positive emotional expression was generally associated with better social adjustment two years later. However, as anticipated, CSA survivors who expressed positive emotion in the context of describing a past CSA experience had poorer long-term social adjustment, whereas CSA survivors who expressed positive emotion while describing a nonabuse experience had improved social adjustment. These findings suggest that the benefits of positive emotional expression may often be context specific.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)824-837
Number of pages14
JournalEmotion
Volume7
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2007
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Social Adjustment
Sex Offenses
Cost-Benefit Analysis
Survivors
Emotions
Smiling
Expressed Emotion
Laughter
Empirical Research
Videotape Recording
Disclosure
Young Adult
Costs and Cost Analysis
Wounds and Injuries

Keywords

  • childhood sexual abuse
  • laughter
  • positive emotion
  • smiling
  • social adjustment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

Cite this

Context Matters : The Benefits and Costs of Expressing Positive Emotion Among Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse. / Bonanno, George A.; Colak, Deniz M.; Keltner, Dacher; Shiota, Michelle; Papa, Anthony; Noll, Jennie G.; Putnam, Frank W.; Trickett, Penelope K.

In: Emotion, Vol. 7, No. 4, 11.2007, p. 824-837.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Bonanno, GA, Colak, DM, Keltner, D, Shiota, M, Papa, A, Noll, JG, Putnam, FW & Trickett, PK 2007, 'Context Matters: The Benefits and Costs of Expressing Positive Emotion Among Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse', Emotion, vol. 7, no. 4, pp. 824-837. https://doi.org/10.1037/1528-3542.7.4.824
Bonanno, George A. ; Colak, Deniz M. ; Keltner, Dacher ; Shiota, Michelle ; Papa, Anthony ; Noll, Jennie G. ; Putnam, Frank W. ; Trickett, Penelope K. / Context Matters : The Benefits and Costs of Expressing Positive Emotion Among Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse. In: Emotion. 2007 ; Vol. 7, No. 4. pp. 824-837.
@article{80cd771658114676af840b8385b6e553,
title = "Context Matters: The Benefits and Costs of Expressing Positive Emotion Among Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse",
abstract = "Positive emotions promote adjustment to aversive life events. However, evolutionary theory and empirical research on trauma disclosure suggest that in the context of stigmatized events, expressing positive emotions might incur social costs. To test this thesis, the authors coded genuine (Duchenne) smiling and laughter and also non-Duchenne smiling from videotapes of late-adolescent and young adult women, approximately half with documented histories of childhood sexual abuse (CSA), as they described the most distressing event of their lives. Consistent with previous studies, genuine positive emotional expression was generally associated with better social adjustment two years later. However, as anticipated, CSA survivors who expressed positive emotion in the context of describing a past CSA experience had poorer long-term social adjustment, whereas CSA survivors who expressed positive emotion while describing a nonabuse experience had improved social adjustment. These findings suggest that the benefits of positive emotional expression may often be context specific.",
keywords = "childhood sexual abuse, laughter, positive emotion, smiling, social adjustment",
author = "Bonanno, {George A.} and Colak, {Deniz M.} and Dacher Keltner and Michelle Shiota and Anthony Papa and Noll, {Jennie G.} and Putnam, {Frank W.} and Trickett, {Penelope K.}",
year = "2007",
month = "11",
doi = "10.1037/1528-3542.7.4.824",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "7",
pages = "824--837",
journal = "Emotion",
issn = "1528-3542",
publisher = "American Psychological Association Inc.",
number = "4",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Context Matters

T2 - The Benefits and Costs of Expressing Positive Emotion Among Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse

AU - Bonanno, George A.

AU - Colak, Deniz M.

AU - Keltner, Dacher

AU - Shiota, Michelle

AU - Papa, Anthony

AU - Noll, Jennie G.

AU - Putnam, Frank W.

AU - Trickett, Penelope K.

PY - 2007/11

Y1 - 2007/11

N2 - Positive emotions promote adjustment to aversive life events. However, evolutionary theory and empirical research on trauma disclosure suggest that in the context of stigmatized events, expressing positive emotions might incur social costs. To test this thesis, the authors coded genuine (Duchenne) smiling and laughter and also non-Duchenne smiling from videotapes of late-adolescent and young adult women, approximately half with documented histories of childhood sexual abuse (CSA), as they described the most distressing event of their lives. Consistent with previous studies, genuine positive emotional expression was generally associated with better social adjustment two years later. However, as anticipated, CSA survivors who expressed positive emotion in the context of describing a past CSA experience had poorer long-term social adjustment, whereas CSA survivors who expressed positive emotion while describing a nonabuse experience had improved social adjustment. These findings suggest that the benefits of positive emotional expression may often be context specific.

AB - Positive emotions promote adjustment to aversive life events. However, evolutionary theory and empirical research on trauma disclosure suggest that in the context of stigmatized events, expressing positive emotions might incur social costs. To test this thesis, the authors coded genuine (Duchenne) smiling and laughter and also non-Duchenne smiling from videotapes of late-adolescent and young adult women, approximately half with documented histories of childhood sexual abuse (CSA), as they described the most distressing event of their lives. Consistent with previous studies, genuine positive emotional expression was generally associated with better social adjustment two years later. However, as anticipated, CSA survivors who expressed positive emotion in the context of describing a past CSA experience had poorer long-term social adjustment, whereas CSA survivors who expressed positive emotion while describing a nonabuse experience had improved social adjustment. These findings suggest that the benefits of positive emotional expression may often be context specific.

KW - childhood sexual abuse

KW - laughter

KW - positive emotion

KW - smiling

KW - social adjustment

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=38149065930&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=38149065930&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1037/1528-3542.7.4.824

DO - 10.1037/1528-3542.7.4.824

M3 - Article

VL - 7

SP - 824

EP - 837

JO - Emotion

JF - Emotion

SN - 1528-3542

IS - 4

ER -