- Positive affect and behavior maintenance: With Barbara Fredrickson, we have developed a model that highlights the critical role that positive emotions play in helping us stick to our health behavior goals (e.g., exercising or meditating): the Upward Spiral Theory of Lifestyle Change.
Main theoretical paper: Van Cappellen, P., Rice, E., Catalino, L., & Fredrickson, B. L. & (2018). Positive affective processes underlie positive health behavior change. Psychology and Health, 1, 77-97. doi: 10.1080/08870446.2017.1320798 (Special Issue on “Emotion, Health Decision-making, and Health Behaviour”) PDF
Fredrickson, B. L., Arizmendi, C., & Van Cappellen, P. (in press). Same-day, cross-day, and upward spiral relations between positive affect and positive health behaviours. Psychology and Health. PDF
Don, B., P., Van Cappellen, P., & Fredrickson, B. L. (in press). Understanding engagement in and affective experiences during physical activity: The role of meditation interventions. Psychosomatic Medicine. PDF
- Increasing positive emotions associated with meditation: Given the importance of experiencing positive emotions when meditating for the maintenance of this behavior, our other work has sought to 1) document the positive emotions associated with meditation and 2) understand and test ways to amplify this positive emotional response to meditation.
- Loving-kindness, mindfulness, and informal meditation all increases positive emotions: Fredrickson, B. L., Boulton, A. J. , Firestine, A. M., Van Cappellen, P., Algoe, S. B., Brantley, M. M., Loundon Kim, S., Brantley, J., & Salzberg, S. (in press). Positive emotion correlates of meditation practice: A comparison of mindfulness meditation and loving-kindness meditation. Mindfulness. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0735-9Fredrickson, B. L., Arizmendi, C., Van Cappellen, P., Firestine, A. M., Brantley, M. M., Kim, S. L., Brantley, J., & Salzberg, S. (2019). Do contemplative moments matter? Effects of informal meditation on emotions and perceived social integration. Mindfulness, 10, 1915-1925.
- Biological amplifier: Administration of oxytocin amplifies the positive emotions experienced while meditating: Van Cappellen, P., Way, B., Isgett, S. F., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2016). Effects of oxytocin administration on spirituality and emotional responses to meditation. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 11, 1579-1587. doi: 10.1093/scan/nsw078 Dataset and codebook on PDF
- Psychological amplifier: A short intervention explaining the benefits of setting aside time for pleasant events (e.g., “People who devote time each day to activities that generate positive emotions [e.g. interest, amusement] fare the best”) as well as the dangers of willing oneself to feel positive emotions (e.g., “Research also shows that if you simply ‘will’ or ‘wish’ yourself to feel positive emotions, it can backfire, ironically making you feel worse”) led to increased enjoyment of loving-kindness meditation specifically. In addition, enjoyment of any kind of meditation predicted future engagement in meditation practice: Van Cappellen*, P., Catalino*, L., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2020). A new micro-intervention to increase the enjoyment and continued practice of meditation. Emotion, 20(8), 1332–1343. https://doi.org/10.1037/emo0000684 PDF
- Applying the Upward Spiral Theory to religious behaviors: Van Cappellen, P., Edwards, M., & Fredrickson, B. L. (in press). Upward spirals of positive emotions and religious behaviors. Current Opinion in Psychology.
- Positive emotions as one mechanism explaining the association between religious practice and health: