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The broaden-and-build theory relates positive emotions to resilience and cognitive broadening. The theory proposes that the broadening effects underly the relation between positive emotions and resilience, suggesting that resilient people can benefit more from positive emotions at the level of cognitive functioning. Research has investigated the influence of positive emotions on attentional broadening, but the stimulus in the target of attention may also influence attentional breadth, depending on affective stimulus evaluation. Surprised faces are particularly interesting as they are valence ambiguous, therefore, we investigated the relation between affective evaluation--using an affective priming task--and attentional breadth for surprised faces, and how this relation is influenced by resilience. Results show that more positive evaluations are related to more attentional broadening at high levels of resilience, while this relation is reversed at low levels. This indicates that resilient individuals can benefit more from attending to positively evaluated stimuli at the level of attentional broadening.

Original publication




Journal article


Cogn Emot

Publication Date





146 - 157


Attentional breadth, Positive emotions, Positively evaluated stimuli, Surprised faces, Adolescent, Adult, Affect, Attention, Facial Expression, Female, Humans, Male, Personality Inventory, Photic Stimulation, Psychiatric Status Rating Scales, Resilience, Psychological