Flourishing vs Languishing Understanding Some Dynamics Underlying Individual, Couples, Group, and Business Team Behavior Presented to the San Antonio Chapter International Society for Performance Improvement October 27th, 2005 Randall C. Agee My story begins... ...and reaches an abrupt end. “Positive Affect and the Complex Dynamics of Human Flourishing” Barbara Fredrickson – Dept of Psychology, University of Michigan Marcial F. Losada – Department of Information Technology & Knowledge Management, Universidade de Católica de Brazília Positive Psychology Language of Psychology Affect = Emotion • Maslow – Personality derived from needs – A hierarchy exists among needs – Growth occurs as individuals climb hierarchy from basic Physiological and Safety needs toward Belonging and Esteem needs, culminating in Self-Actualization – Growth to higher stages blocked when needs at a given level are frustrated Other Positive Psychology Theorists • Carl Rogers – Client-centered Therapy – Individual is inherently good – Maturity is a continuous process of discovering innate capacity for positive affective experiences • individually • socially • Martin Seligman – Evolutionary purpose of positive affect • broaden and build cognitive and social resources for resiliance – Good life comes from kindness, not “pleasure” – Learned optimism can overcome learned helplessness Chaos Theory • Edward Lorenz (early 1960s meteorologist) – Developed 12 equations to predict what the weather might be – Set measurement sensitivity low (6 decimals) but reporting sensitivity higher (3 decimals) • Result: successive iterations generated radically different predictions – Butterfly Effect “Butterfly flapping wings in Brazil, echoing for a month through dynamic systems governing weather, can cause a cyclone in Indonesia – or not!” • Chaos Theory – Explains complex system behavior as a series of mathematical patterns follow closely, but do not exactly replicate themselves in different scales through time – Meg Wheatley: fractals are created by non-linear equations generating repeated iterations of ever-smaller levels of scale. Chaos Theory (continued) • Gladwell – The Tipping Point – Three Rules of Epidemics • Law of the Few – a handful of exceptional people can make a difference • Stickiness Factor – simple changes may give an idea great impact • Power of Context – people are more sensitive to environment than you think – describe social phenomenon as diverse as • flu and syphilis outbreaks, • successful advertising campaigns, and • crime waves – a system remain in equilibrium until a very tiny event tips it out of balance • resulting in a new equilibrium brought on by Innovators and Early Adopters • followed by recruitment of the Early and Late Majorities, • with Laggards dragging their feet and Recalcitrants never getting on board! Origin of Chaos Theory (continued) • Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg – Quantum Mechanics – Particles may behave like waves and vice versa, depending on how you measure them – Electron position and spin are not simultaneously knowable – Uncertainty and Complementarity gave headaches to proponents of an orderly world of Physics • Orne (1962) – Demand Characteristics – Showed that subjects in an psychology experiments strive to guess the purposes of the experiments, and then may inject what they know or think they know into reaction to the experimental conditions – In Industrial Psychology, the classic Hawthorne experiments at Western Electric showed that workers may respond to any experimental conditions, even contradictory changes, with increased productivity! Benefits of Positive Psychology Fredrickson cites biological research for benefits from positive affect • • • • Broadening scope of attention Expanding behavioral répertoire Increasing intuition & creativity Speeding recovery from cardiovascular distress • Altering frontal lobe asymmetry • Increasing immune function • Salubrious mental & physical outcomes – – – – – Increased resilience to adversity Increased happiness Psychological growth Lower levels of cortisol Reduced inflammatory responses to stress – Reduction in subsequent-day physical pain – Resistance to rhinoviruses – Reduction in stroke Broaden and Build Theory of Positive Psychology • They assert that chaotic patterns that provide flexibility and resilience for physical and neurological systems also extends benefits to emotional life – “People in positive affect states are less predictable than when they are in negative states, and that positivity allows them to be more resilient and adaptable when the inevitable crisis erupts. • They conclude a clear link exists between frequent positive affect and longevity. “... human ability to experience positive affect is an “evolved psychological adaptation that increased our ancestors’ odds of survival and reproduction” (Fredrickson and Losada, 2005) • In Randy’s words “those unhappy souls that can’t play well with others and think poorly of themselves aren’t likely to contribute to the gene pool.” Application of Positivity to Analyzing Marriage • John Gottman (University of Washington Love Lab) – Videotaped conversations sliced into 15-second intervals along with physiological data & jiggle-meters – Analyzed verbal and non-verbal behavior on a 20-category taxonomy of emotional states • Produced 1,800 variable record for each couple (900 each X 2) – Criterion; identify marriages surviving 15 yrs • With 1 hr observation, successful 95% • With only 15 min observation, successful 90% Application of Positivity to Analyzing Marriage (continued) Examples of Emotional States Rated • • • • • Disgust Contempt Anger Sadness Stonewalling • • • • • Gratitude Interest Compassion Support Affection Search for the Losada Line • Is there a Critical Positivity Ratio? – Moderately positive affect equips individuals with adaptive bias to approach and explore novel objects, people or situations – Bad is stronger than good • Overcoming toxicity of negative affective environment is not onefor-one – Research suggests the balance to keep people in a “good mental health zone” ranges from ~ 2.5:1 for individuals ~5.1:1 for business teams Losada on Business teams • Conducted observational research with 60 teams engaged Strategic Planning – One-way mirror – Rated three variables • Positive speech vs Negative speech • Inquiry vs Advocacy • Self-oriented vs Other-oriented Positive speech encouragement support appreciation Negative speech disapproval cynicism sarcasm Losada on Business teams (continued) • Of the 60 teams: – 15 had a much more positive emotional team emotional climate – 16 had a mixed team emotional climate – 19 had negative emotional climate • Losada derived a set of coupled differential equations to describe the within-team interactions – Please see the Fredrickson and Losada paper for a more complete description of the math. • Employed Fourier transformations of cross-spectral density function to generate a model – Plotting the model produces a graphic that looks like a butterfly, with three distinct geographical areas • Losada Line: the ratio of 2.9 to 1 bifuricates flourishing from languishing teams Losada on Business teams (continued) • The 15 teams with most positive emotional climate – Wider range of ideas and initiatives – Most successful as measured by • profitability, • customer satisfaction, and • 360°evaluations by superiors, peers and subordinates • The 16 teams with mixed emotional climate – Mixed success – Have insufficient resilience; in moments of extreme adversity, lose their behavioral flexibility and capacity to question assumptions, resulting in endless languishing • The 19 teams with negative emotional climate – Unsuccessful – Tightly bounded, uncreative and generally negative in outlook – “stuck in self-absorbed advocacy resulting in an endless loop” Fredrickson’s Experiments Testing Losada Line • Two samples – One screened to exclude members with expressing depression – Second randomly drawn and not screened • Students rated 20 variables describing emotional state daily for 28 days (2 variables were neutral) Positive emotions awe compassion contentment gratitude hope interest joy love pride sexual desire Negative emotions anger contempt disgust embarrassment fear guilt sadness shame Fredrickson’s Experiments Testing Losada Line (continued) • Results Sample 1 Sample 2 Flourishing Individuals 3.2 to 1 3.4 to 1 Languishing Individuals 2.3 to 1 2.1 to 1 • Take-home message: Flourishing and Languishing members of both samples bracket the Losada Line Upper Limits • The logical journey nears a conclusion. • Can we have too much of a good thing? – After all, how much Mary Poppins can a guy take? • Using Lorentz’ math, Losada calculated that the benefits of positive affect will begin to decay at or above 11.6 to 1 • Fredrickson & Losada suggest that appropriate negativity will help ground relationships in reality Appropriate Negativity • Looking to Gottman’s data on predicting successful marriages, Fredrickson and Losada observe that some degree of appropriate negativity promotes flourishing – Gottman identifies disgust and contempt as the most corrosive emotions in a marital relationship – However, an atmosphere where needs can be communicated honestly promote marital success – For example, guilt derived from viewing actions as improper or immoral is more tolerable than shame derived from a sense of diminished self-worth • Fredrickson and Losada cite examples where insincere verbal and nonverbal expressions of emotion (false smiles, patronizing) have detrimental consequences generally recognized as negativity General Theory of Positivity • • • • • • • Human flourishing and languishing can be represented by mathematical equations based the Lorentz’ efforts to predict weather systems The positivity ratio bifuricating phase space between flourishing and languishing is 2.9. Positivity ratios above 2.9 are associated with flourishing. Human flourishing in large scales (couples, groups, teams) emulate structure and process observed at lower scales (individuals). Appropriate negativity is a critical ingredient for flourishing. Complex dynamics of flourishing decay above positivity ratios of 11.6:1 and higher. Human flourishing is characterized by four components: – – – – goodness generativity growth resilience What’s In It For You? • Individually? – Thriving comes from positive affect – spend time in environments promoting 3:1 ratio • Put yourself in places that make you feel good; minimize toxic places • • • Are you a Spouse? – Thriving marriages may require even more positive exhanges • Expect to give 5:1; hope to get 5:1 • Keep negativity appropriate: focus on behavior – Stay Away from the most corrosive expressions: Contempt! & Disgust! Are you a Parent? – “Teach your children well!” – David Crosby Toiling in the Vineyard of the Working World? – Help co-workers and clients focus on what is right! Cast your recommendations in terms of what can be done to make it better! • Keep Losada Line in focus: Help coworkers & clients find a range of 2.9 to 11.6 positive emotional experiences – give them something good to take home! • Help coworkers & client avoid toxic experiences of Shame, Contempt & Disgust References • • • • • • Boeree, C. George. (1998). Abraham Maslow: Biography. Shippensburg PA: Psychology Department, Shippensburg University. http://www.ship.edu/~cgboeree/maslow.html. Cassidy, David. (1998). Quantum Mechanics 1925-1927, Triumph of the Copenhagen Interpretation. Hempstead NY: Hofstra University. http://www.aip.org/history/heisenberg/p09.htm. Daner, Francine J. (1997). Book Review: "What Predicts Divorce?” Phoenix AZ: Milton H. 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