Prioritizing positivity across the adult lifespan: initial evidence for differential associations with positive and negative emotions

Hadassah Littman-Ovadia, Pninit Russo-Netzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Prioritizing positivity (PP) has been presented as an effective mechanism to increase positive emotions and reduce negative emotions. The current study sought to explore the role of age as a moderator and identify selected situations facilitating the likelihood of routinely experiencing positive and negative emotions. Methods: This mixed methods study consisted of 604 adults between 17 and 87 years who completed prioritizing positivity (PP) scale, positive and negative affect scale (PANAS), and demographic data. Aside from the study questionnaires, a subsample of 223 participants was presented with two open questions. 1037 responses to these two questions comprised the data for content analysis. Results: PP was found to be associated with increasing positive emotions in old adulthood, but not in young adulthood, and more with decreasing negative emotions in young adulthood than in old adulthood. Content analysis revealed that interpersonal interaction is critical in both increasing positive and reducing negative emotions, across age groups. However, young adults were more likely to prioritize pleasurable activities as triggers of positive emotions. Older adults focused on avoiding unfulfilling situations, due to the negative emotions that they trigger. Conclusion: Integrating both qualitative and quantitative findings elucidates the role of daily routine situations and activities in the management of positive and negative emotions across the lifespan. PP was shown to be of significant emotional value for younger as well as for older adults, though for different reasons. For younger adults, PP serves as a potential ’buffer’ to balance negative emotions related to daily stresses and hassles characterizing this life stage, whereas for older adults it serves as a mechanism to boost life’s little pleasures on a daily basis based on the acknowledgment of one’s limited time ahead.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-420
Number of pages10
JournalQuality of Life Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 15 Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


  • Emotion-regulation strategy
  • Lifespan
  • Negative affect
  • Positive affect
  • Prioritizing positivity
  • Situations selection
  • Well-being Adulthood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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