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by Aaron Ben-Zeév

“There can be no rainbow without a cloud and a storm.” John H. Vincent

In order to explain and understand emotions, we can divide them into two groups: The emotions we term ‘positive’ and those that we term ‘negative’. On this issue, there are two major claims that appear to be contradictory: (a) that negative emotions are more noticeable, and (b) that, because people typically consider themselves to be happy, the average person considers herself to be happier than the average person. How can this apparent paradox explained?

Before examining these claims, let me clarify that in speaking about positive and negative emotions, I refer to their psychological, rather than moral nature.
From a psychological viewpoint, a positive emotion is one that involves a positive evaluation of the object, a positive type of motivation, and an agreeable feeling. From a moral viewpoint, a positive, or rather good, emotion is one that is positively evaluated in the light of moral values. The two perspectives may conflict: for example, pleasure-in-others’-misfortune is a positive emotion from a psychological viewpoint, but negative from a moral one; compassion is a negative emotion from a psychological viewpoint, but positive from a moral one. Love is positive from both perspectives.

Read in Full:  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-the-name-love/201007/are-negative-emotions-more-important-positive-emotions



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