Broaden and Build Theory – An Elaborate Study


An Introduction

If an employee goes to her office with a low mood, there are high chances that she had a tough time interacting with colleagues or using her creativity. The employee’s performance also reduces in quality. When an employee keeps a positive state of mind, she feels the presence of opportunities all around her. She is open to all kinds of innovative ideas and feedback. Being in a good mood also contributes in maintaining proper interaction with her colleagues. In this article, we will discuss about Broaden and Build Theory. This article is going to help leaders to enhance the performance of her team members through proper team management.


The Broaden and Build Theory was developed by Barbara Fredrickson in 1998 and it is associated with the positive aspects of human psychology. The theory came into being as a result of Fredrickson’s research on the effect of positive emotions on survival.

An Idea

Broaden and Build Theory is a study of the expanded functions of positive emotions. Emotions that are positive in nature seem to ‘broaden’ the transitory thought-action repertoires and ‘build’ personal resources.

Positive emotions cause joy, contentment and cheerfulness. They broaden behaviors as well. Some of the behavioral features are play, awareness, discovery etc. The more are the positive emotions, the broader is the scale of thought-action repertoires. That means the happier an employee is, the more creative, amiable and productive she can become.

Negative Emotions

Negative emotions are best described by specific action tendencies. A specific action tendency is the result of a psychological procedure that makes transitory thought-action repertoire of a person shallow. It urges the mind to act in a specific way. A narrow thought-action repertoire helps a person to survive in times of crisis and it is generally characterized by immediate effect. For example, a man chased by a tiger would focus on surviving rather than play or joy.

The broadened behavior of a team member helps her in building skills in her sphere of work. These abilities and skills are called intellectual, personal, social, physical and psychological resources.

These resources are more long lasting than the positive emotions that are noticed in the starting stage. The resources are also responsible for success in the long run. These widened resources help to cope with unhappy and stressful emotions. Strong will contributes in dealing with tough situations at workplace.

Explanation of Broaden and Build Theory

The following points have been deduced from the theory.

Expand thought-action repertoires

People who experience positive emotions display thought patterns that are quite flexible, creative and efficient. They are more open to variety than their counterparts who experience negative emotions. While negative states such as failure and depression forecast local biases that are related to narrowed attention, positive states such as success and optimism forecast global biases that are related to widened attention. People, who are in positive conditions such as contentment and joy, realize the presence of more things than they want to do at that point of time.

Positive emotions get rid of negative emotions

People try to regulate the experience of negative emotions. Since, positive emotions widen the temporary thought-action repertoire; they should act as medicines to recover from the lingering influence of negative emotions. It is a well known fact that positive and negative emotions are incompatible. The broadening influence of positive emotions is cited as a probable influence. Positive emotions make the grip of negative emotion lose.

For example, enhanced cardiovascular activity is linked with negative emotions. It is a marker of specific action tendencies. Positive emotions are helpful in recovering from the reactions of cardiovascular activities. Thus, the body will return to a mid-range activation level.

Positive emotions give impetus to psychological resiliency

We know that positive emotions help in recovering from negative emotions. Thus, they can also contribute in psychological well being. As a result, they help in improving physical health of an individual. Positive emotions draw attention to negative information and serve as a resource to handle adverse situations.

Just like resilient metals do not break even after pressure is exerted on them, resilient people also bounce back from adverse and negative experiences more efficiently than non-resilient individuals. If an employee is resilient, she is energetic and optimistic towards life. They are flexible to the extent of accepting new experiences and are emotionally strong.

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Positive emotions are a result of resilient coping. However, research has shown that resilient employees use positive emotions for effective coping. There are team members who use optimistic thinking and humor to cope with negative emotions. Interestingly, resilient employees elicit positive emotions in their colleagues besides cultivating the same in themselves.

According to the ‘broaden and build theory,’ resilient employees are likely to recover faster from cardiovascular activity. In other words, resilient employees are expert users of the undoing effects of positive emotions.

Positive emotions create personal resources

As per the ‘broaden and build theory,’ experiencing positive emotions can help in creating psychological resilience. Positive emotions widen the opportunity to enable creative thinking and enhance coping resources.

Positive emotions give impetus to physical and psychological well-being

By building psychological resources, positive emotions enhance booth physical and emotional well-being. In agreement to this view it can be said that individuals who have undergone positive emotions at the time of experiencing a negative event, have been able to develop strategic plans in the long run. One way of experiencing positive emotions in the time of loss, is to find positive meaning in negative events. In course of time the influences of positive emotions gather, which help in coping during adverse situations. This coping forecasts the future experiences of positive emotions. This way, people build their physical and emotional well-being.

To Sum Up

From this article, it can be concluded that a team leader should look after the physical and emotional well-being of her subordinates. It helps in motivating team members to give their best at workplace. This is because a satisfied and happy team member is a company’s future.

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