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When Feeling Mixed Can Be Meaningful: The Relation Between Mixed Emotions and Eudaimonic Well-Being

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Whilst positive emotions benefit well-being, the role of other more complex emotional experiences for well-being is less well understood. This research therefore investigated the relationship between mixed emotions and eudaimonic well-being. A cross-sectional study (Study 1; N = 429) first demonstrated (using structural equation modelling) that mixed emotions are related to the presence of goal conflict. Importantly, it was also found that mixed emotions are positively related to eudaimonic well-being, and that one potential mechanism linking mixed emotions and eudaimonic well-being is via the search for meaning in life. Study 2 (N = 52) implemented a quasi-experiment regarding a naturally occurring meaningful life event (i.e., graduation day) and again demonstrated that mixed emotions are associated with a greater level of eudaimonic well-being. Implications of these findings include the importance of mixed emotions in the search for meaning in life, and the role of mixed emotions in goal conflict resolution.
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RESEARCH PAPER
When Feeling Mixed Can Be Meaningful: The Relation
Between Mixed Emotions and Eudaimonic Well-Being
Raul Berrios
1
Peter Totterdell
2
Stephen Kellett
2
Published online: 28 January 2017
Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017
Abstract Whilst positive emotions benefit well-being, the role of other more complex
emotional experiences for well-being is less well understood. This research therefore
investigated the relationship between mixed emotions and eudaimonic well-being. A cross-
sectional study (Study 1; N =429) first demonstrated (using structural equation mod-
elling) that mixed emotions are related to the presence of goal conflict. Importantly, it was
also found that mixed emotions are positively related to eudaimonic well-being, and that
one potential mechanism linking mixed emotions and eudaimonic well-being is via the
search for meaning in life. Study 2 (N =52) implemented a quasi-experiment regarding a
naturally occurring meaningful life event (i.e., graduation day) and again demonstrated that
mixed emotions are associated with a greater level of eudaimonic well-being. Implications
of these findings include the importance of mixed emotions in the search for meaning in
life, and the role of mixed emotions in goal conflict resolution.
Keywords Mixed emotions Eudaimonic well-being Meaning in life Well-being
Emotional complexity
1 Introduction
Eudaimonic well-being refers to a person’s sense that his or her life has purpose or
meaning. Unlike hedonic well-being, which refers to a person’s sense of pleasure in life,
eudaimonic well-being is not defined by the presence of positive emotion and absence of
negative emotion. Indeed, experiencing a functional balance of positive and negative
emotions may be a hallmark of eudaimonic well-being (Fredrickson 2013). In this
&Raul Berrios
raul.berrios@usach.cl
1
Departamento de Administracio
´n, Universidad de Santiago de Chile, Santiago, Chile
2
Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
123
J Happiness Stud (2018) 19:841–861
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-017-9849-y
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
... Indeed, theoretical models such as the dynamic model of affect (DMA; Reich et al., 2003) and the co-activation model of healthy coping (Larsen et al., 2003) predict that mixed emotions, either at moderate levels or otherwise, may exert adaptive effects on well-being primarily under conditions of adversity. Other studies that did not focus on adversity have nevertheless examined contextualized mixed emotions (Berrios et al., 2018a(Berrios et al., , 2018b, such as graduating from college, a primarily positive event that may elicit qualitatively different mixed emotions from those arising naturalistically in daily life. Finally, another study found links between mixed emotions and positive health outcomes (Hershfield et al., 2013) but mixed emotions in this study were operationalized using within-person correlations, which has been criticized as having questionable validity (Larsen et al., 2017). ...
... Specifically, the conflict hypothesis argues that mixed emotions in daily life may be conflicting and agonizing states that are unlikely to be beneficial for psychological well-being. Indeed, a recent study provided preliminary evidence that nostalgia-which has been widely conceptualized to be a mixed emotional state (Batcho, 2020;Sedikides & Wildschut, 2018;Vaccaro et al., 2020)-tended to have negative links with well-being when assessed naturalistically (Newman et al., 2020) as opposed to mixed emotions that have often been examined under specific contexts (e.g., Berrios et al., 2018a;. Nevertheless, as nostalgia is a very specific mixed emotional state, it remains unclear whether these findings would generalize to mixed emotions occurring more generally amidst daily life. ...
... Finally, we examined bidirectional relationships between an index of general emotional ambivalence and psychological well-being over approximately a decade (Study 3). Importantly, across all studies, we focused on examining naturalistic emotional experiences in daily life rather than contextualized mixed emotions in order to build upon previous single-valenced work that has used similar methodologies to examine emotions and well-being but without examining mixed emotions (e.g., Kuppens et al., 2008), as well as to build upon previous findings which have primarily examined contextualized rather than naturalistic mixed emotions (e.g., Berrios et al., 2018a). To further account for the potential overlap between measures of positive, negative, and mixed emotions, we also performed separate analyses with and without including positive and negative emotions to demonstrate that findings are not due to statistical artefacts resulting from this overlap. ...
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Conflicting perspectives on whether mixed emotions are adaptive states which promote integrative processes or uncomfortable states which are agonizing make divergent predictions on whether mixed emotions in daily life are conducive towards psychological well-being. We examined this across three studies. Study 1 (N = 335, 135 males; Mage = 41.31) examined associations between state mixed emotions and psychological well-being. Study 2 (N = 389; 160 males; Mage = 40.86) examined associations between workplace-specific mixed emotions and workplace ill-being assessed based on burnout. Both direct measures and indirect measures were examined in Study 1 and 2, allowing some comparison of methodological issues related to their predictive validity. Study 3 (N = 3444; 1587 males; Mage = 55.34) examined bidirectional relationships between an index of emotional ambivalence and psychological well-being about ten years later, controlling for baselines. Demographic covariates, positive emotions, and negative emotions were controlled for in all studies. Analyses were performed using latent variable structural equation modelling. After adjusting for all covariates, the direct measures of mixed emotions predicted poorer psychological well-being (Study 1) and greater burnout (Study 2). However, indirect measures were found to suffer from relatively greater multicollinearity and poorer predictive validity upon controlling for positive and negative emotions. In Study 3, emotional ambivalence predicted poorer long-term psychological well-being, while psychological well-being also predicted lower emotional ambivalence, supporting bidrectionality. The findings provide preliminary evidence that naturalistically experienced mixed emotions may be conflicting and unpleasant, with potentially negative implications for psychological well-being over and above positive and negative emotions.
... Just because software developers are more prone to psychological suffering does not necessarily mean that they flourish less. In other words, individuals can experience mixed states, i.e., both positive and negative affect, associated with increases in self-control and well-being [118][119][120]. Contrary to Stack ...
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Context: Organizational studies show that well-being contributes to various work outcomes, including creativity, performance, and productivity. However, the multidimensional well-being of software developers is still an underresearched topic due to the limited focus, demography, methodology, theory, and results of software engineering studies. Objective: This paper encourages more advanced quantitative studies on the well-being of professional software developers by reviewing the present literature on the topic and providing a theoretical model based on the systematically reviewed empirical studies. Method: A systematic literature review was adopted to review 31 quantitative survey studies published between 2000 and 2021, while the analytical part of the grounded theory literature review was used to construct the theoretical model. Results: 10,652 professional software developers from at least 830 companies, 588 teams/projects, and 34 countries constitute the total sample. The studies were mostly published in IT-related journals between 2015 and 2019, mainly by American and German authors. Cross-sectional designs, SEM and regression techniques, and original measures were mostly used to study various constructs and indicators of well-being. The quality is good to very good. Conclusion: The well-being of software developers emerged as a meta-construct of hedonic, eudaimonic, and multidimensional well-being predicted by different individual and organizational factors and impacting the health of software developers and their organizations. The review confirmed the need for more advanced quantitative studies of software developers' well-being.
... For instance, mixed emotions predict a higher likelihood of engaging in preventative health behaviors during the Covid-19 pandemic and can attenuate declines in physical health (Hershfield et al., 2013). Mixed emotions have also predicted greater eudaimonic well-being (Berrios et al., 2018) and improved psychological well-being (Adler & Hershfield, 2012). In contrast, other studies have shown that mixed emotions predict lower well-being roughly ten years later (Oh, 2022). ...
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Nostalgia is a sentimental longing for the past that can influence people's well-being. How this mixed emotion influences well-being may depend on current life circumstances. Nostalgia elicited in negative contexts could be particularly harmful to people's well-being, whereas nostalgia elicited in positive contexts may not be as detrimental. This hypothesis was tested at the level of individual differences with a nationally representative sample of Americans (N = 6,732) who completed measures of nostalgia proneness and several indicators of well-being. Income was measured as an objective indicator of current life circumstances. Results showed that nostalgia proneness was negatively related to well-being, and income was positively related to well-being. Importantly, these relationships were moderated such that the negative relationships between nostalgia and well-being were stronger among members of low income households than among members of high income households. Consistent with the hypothesis, nostalgia proneness was particularly detrimental to well-being under objectively less desirable circumstances. These findings support an emerging body of research that contends that the effect of nostalgia on well-being depends on the context in which nostalgia is elicited. Supplementary information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s11482-022-10066-8.
... Among studies that have examined antecedents of mixed emotions, the literature suggests two situations reliably elicit mixed emotions: goal conflict (Berrios et al., 2015(Berrios et al., , 2018 and meaningful endings (Ersner-Hershfield et al., 2008;Zhang et al., 2010). Still, it is unclear why these situations elicit mixed emotions. ...
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Research on mixed emotions is flourishing but fractured. Several psychological subfields are working in parallel and separately from other disciplines also studying mixed emotions, which has led to a disorganized literature. In this article, we provide an overview of the literature on mixed emotions and discuss factors contributing to the lack of integration within and between fields. We present an organizing framework for the literature of mixed emotions on the basis of two distinct goals: solving the bipolar-bivariate debate and understanding the subjective experience of mixed emotions. We also present a personalized perspective that can be used when studying the subjective experience of mixed emotions. We emphasize the importance of assessing both state and trait emotions (e.g., momentary emotions, general levels of affect) alongside state and trait context (e.g., physical location, culture). We discuss three methodological approaches that we believe will be valuable in building a new mixed-emotions literature-inductive research methods, idiographic models of emotional experiences, and empirical assessment of emotion-eliciting contexts. We include recommendations throughout on applying these methods to research on mixed emotions, and we conclude with avenues for future interdisciplinary research. We hope that this perspective will foster research that results in the organized accumulation of knowledge about mixed emotions.
... Similarly, guilt can facilitate virtuous conduct. Furthermore, researchers (Berrios et al., 2018) have shown that mixed emotions -experiencing positive and negative emotions at the same timecan be positively correlated with eudaimonic WB. This is because mixed emotions are associated with complex goals that often contain conflicting elements. ...
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... Given the important role held by parents in helping students to deal with their emotions and the transition following high school graduation (Lowe & Dotterer, 2018;Vignoli et al., 2020), parents are invited to pay particular attention to the multiple emotions students experience and often express and share, as well as the multiple challenges, goals, and barriers associated with these multiple emotions. Indeed, the capacity to appraise the complexities of emotional events and experience mixed emotions has been associated with beneficial outcomes in terms of well-being (Berrios et al., 2018;Braniecka et al., 2014). Parents could therefore help their children to accept the complexity and ambiguity of future transitions and to understand that mixed emotions can help in bringing about positive outcomes and forestall negative ones (Baumgartner et al., 2008). ...
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... Although there is some debate about whether emotional expressions can coexist (Larsen & McGraw, 2014); there is convincing evidence that positive and negative emotional experiences (e.g., sadness and happiness; Berrios et al., 2015) can occur simultaneously, especially following bittersweet or emotionally ambiguous situations (Larsen & McGraw, 2011;Larsen et al., 2001). A wealth of research (often using experience sampling studies) has shown that mixed emotional experiences (and related aspects, such as emotion differentiation and emotional complexity) are associated with a host of beneficial psychological and physical health outcomes (Berrios et al., 2018;Erbas et al., 2014Erbas et al., , 2016Ong et al., 2018;Quoidbach et al., 2014). More recently, Charles and colleagues (2017) proposed that mixed emotional experiences would also be related to higher levels of cognitive functioning (see also Labouvie-Vief, 2015). ...
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... Given the important role held by parents in helping students to deal with their emotions and the transition following high school graduation (Lowe & Dotterer, 2018;Vignoli et al., 2020), parents are invited to pay particular attention to the multiple emotions students experience and often express and share, as well as the multiple challenges, goals, and barriers associated with these multiple emotions. Indeed, the capacity to appraise the complexities of emotional events and experience mixed emotions has been associated with beneficial outcomes in terms of well-being (Berrios et al., 2018;Braniecka et al., 2014). Parents could therefore help their children to accept the complexity and ambiguity of future transitions and to understand that mixed emotions can help in bringing about positive outcomes and forestall negative ones (H. . ...
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Most future educational and career transitions represent major life events that individuals anticipate to a considerable extent, possibly with multiple emotions at the same time. However, few studies have examined the emotions that individuals experience when they anticipate a future educational or career transition, imagine how it will occur, the consequences it will have for them, and visualize their coping efforts. The aims of the present dissertation are fourfold. First, we explore individuals’ combinations of multiple future-oriented emotions at the prospect of three major educational and career transitions: (a) the transition from high school to higher education, (b) the transition from higher education to the job market, and (c) the transition from unemployment to employment. Due to the rather exploratory nature of our first research question, our second objective pertains to the replication of these combinations and the investigation of similarities between several groups of individuals based on (a) gender, (b) institutional context, and (c) the temporal distance before the transition. Third, we examine several antecedents of individuals’ combinations of future-oriented emotions. These antecedents ranged from career-related constructs such as career decidedness and career adaptability to affective mechanisms such as cognitive appraisals, trait affect, and emotion regulation. Finally, we examine the behavioral effects of future-oriented emotions in terms of anticipated vocational planning and effort. Overall, the present dissertation brings several implications in highlighting the combinations of future-oriented emotions that individuals experience when anticipating important vocational transitions, a research strand that is scarce both in vocational and emotion research. From a practical point of view, the evidence of several combinations—and the differences and similarities among several groups or contexts—carries practical implications for designing and implementing career-related interventions. Finally, examining antecedents and outcomes of future-oriented emotions combinations underlines the importance of taking emotional anticipation processes into account when individuals prepare for and cope with major educational and career transitions.
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