Positive Emotion, Appraisal, and the Role of Appraisal Overlap in Positive Emotion Co-Occurrence

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Appraisal research has traditionally focused on negative emotions but has not addressed issues concerning the relationships between several positive emotions and appraisals in daily life and the extent to which co-occurrence of positive emotions can be explained by overlap in appraisals. Driven by a priori hypotheses on appraisal-emotion relationships, this study investigated 12 positive emotions and 13 appraisal dimensions using Ecological Momentary Assessment. The results provide strong evidence that positive emotions and appraisals correlate significantly in daily life. Importantly, we found that the positive emotions’ overlap on theoretically relevant, as compared to irrelevant, appraisals was stronger and more predictive of their co-occurrence. Furthermore, appraisal overlap on theoretically relevant appraisals predicted the co-occurrence of positive emotions even when the appraisal of pleasantness was excluded, indicating that positive emotions do not co-occur just by virtue of their shared valence. Our findings affirmed and refined the appraisal profiles of positive emotions and underscore the importance of appraisals in accounting for the commonality and differences among positive emotions.

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