The Eudaimonics of Positive Emotions

  • Barbara L. FredricksonEmail author
Part of the International Handbooks of Quality-of-Life book series (IHQL)


In this chapter, Fredrickson empirically explores the dynamic interrelationships between experiences of hedonia and eudaimonia. She first reviews her team’s recent research that relates these two forms of wellbeing to a genomic marker of physical health comprised of an evidence-based 53-gene composite assayed from participants’ circulating white blood cells. Across two independent studies (N = 198), results reveal that when measures of hedonic and eudaimonic wellbeing are simultaneously used to predict gene expression profiles, only eudaimonic wellbeing significantly associates with a healthy pattern of gene expression. This association was replicated in two additional studies (N = 107 and 108), each using a distinct but related measure of eudaimonia. Fredrickson next discusses the role of positive emotions – one core aspect of hedonia – in fostering human health and longevity by reviewing evidence that positive emotions forecast and cause increases in eudaimonia. Building on this evidence, she describes a recent re-analysis of data that tests for an indirect path from hedonic wellbeing to healthy profiles of gene expression, as mediated by eudaimonic wellbeing. Results suggest that hedonic wellbeing, measured in a variety of ways, predicts a healthy pattern of gene expression, as mediated by eudaimonic wellbeing. Fredrickson concludes that, in line with the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions, hedonic states broaden people’s mindsets in ways that help them to discover and build self-transcendent experiences of purpose, meaning, contribution, and interconnectedness. Hedonia and eudaimonia are thus dynamically intertwined facets of wellbeing, each of which plays a vital role the process of human flourishing.


Happiness Wellbeing Eudaimonia Broaden-and-build theory Positive emotions 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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