IN A SAMPLE OF 30,000+ PEOPLE,
EXPERIENCING DIVERSE EMOTIONS
PREDICTS MENTAL AND PHYSICAL
Compare three individuals: Jack experiences three moments of joy in a given day, Paul experiences two moments of joy and one moment of contentment, and Lucy experiences two moments of joy and one moment of anxiety. If we sum the number of positive emotions (joy and contentment) and subtract the number of negative emotions (anxiety), Jack and Paul would be equally happy, and happier than Lucy.
Is well-being simply the result of such simple arithmetic subtractions? Our team investigates whether not just the mean levels but also the diversity of emotion that people experience may have hidden benefits for their well-being. In a recent set of scientific studies studies of over 37,000 people, we drawing from research methods in natural sciences used to quantify the biodiversity of ecosystems to show that the emodiversity of Jack, Paul, and Lucy’s emotions—the variety and relative abundance of the emotions they experience—is an independent and integral component of the human emotional ecosystem, one that predicts both mental and physical health.
Schematic representing prototypical respondents low and high in global emodiversity, respectively. Selected respondents have identical mean levels of positive (green) and negative (red) emotion but vary widely in emodiversity
SOME EMODIVERSITY FACTS
FEWER VISITS TO THE DOCTOR
In our sample, people with high emodiversity scores (top 10%) visit on average the doctor's office 25% less often than people with low emodiversity scores (botom 10%)
SMALLER MEDICAL BILLS
In our sample, compared to people with low emodiversity scores (botom 10%), who spend on average 1800 euros in medical bills per year, people with high emodiversity scores (top 10%) spend only 600 euros.
Jordi Quoidbach is an Assistant Professor at the Barcelona School of Management at the University Pompeu Fabra
Michael Norton is an Associate Professor of Business Administration in the Marketing Unit at the Harvard Business School
June Gruber is an Assistant Professor of Psychology and Director of the Positive Emotion & Psychopathology Laboratory at University of Colorado, Boulder
Moira Mikolajczak is an Associate Professor of Emotion and Health Psychology at the University of Louvain
Aleksandr Kogan is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Cambridge
Ilios Kotous is a Ph.D. student at the Université Libre de Bruxelles