Emotion-Focused Coping Stress is by definition an unpleasant and arousing experience that fills us with negative and unhealthy emotions. Do some coping mechanisms focus on this emotional aspect of adversity?
Positive Emotions: Building Blocks of Emotion-Focused Coping Follow- ing the terrorist attacks of 9/11, many Americans reported in public opinion polls that they felt sad, angry, fearful, anxious, and disgusted. Under conditions so tragic, one would not also expect people to feel positive emotions. But it is possible for positive and negative feelings to coexist—as when we find consolation in loss or a silver lining in the dense gray clouds?
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People who cope well and are resilient tend to experience positive emotions in the face of stress—a common capacity that Ann Masten (2001) termed “ordi- nary magic.” How is it that positive emotions work like magic? On the basis of numerous studies, Barbara Fredrickson (2009) notes that positive emotions help people to broaden their outlook in times of stress so they can cope with adver- sity—in part by providing a welcome distraction from the anger, fear, and other negative states that increase blood pressure and arousal and narrow the focusing of attention.