What is shared, what is different? Core relational themes and expressive displays of eight positive emotions

Belinda Campos, Michelle Shiota, Dacher Keltner, Gian C. Gonzaga, Jennifer L. Goetz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

91 Scopus citations


Understanding positive emotions' shared and differentiating features can yield valuable insight into the structure of positive emotion space and identify emotion states, or aspects of emotion states, that are most relevant for particular psychological processes and outcomes. We report two studies that examined core relational themes (Study 1) and expressive displays (Study 2) for eight positive emotion constructs-amusement, awe, contentment, gratitude, interest, joy, love, and pride. Across studies, all eight emotions shared one quality: high positive valence. Distinctive core relational theme and expressive display patterns were found for four emotions-amusement, awe, interest, and pride. Gratitude was associated with a distinct core relational theme but not an expressive display. Joy and love were each associated with a distinct expressive display but their core relational themes also characterised pride and gratitude, respectively. Contentment was associated with a distinct expressive display but not a core relational theme. The implications of this work for the study of positive emotion are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-52
Number of pages16
JournalCognition and Emotion
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2013



  • Appraisal
  • Core relational theme
  • Differentiation
  • Expressive display
  • Positive emotion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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