Positive affect and behavior change

Michelle N. Shiota, Esther K. Papies, Stephanie D. Preston, Disa A. Sauter

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Affect and emotion have potent motivational properties that can be leveraged to promote desirable behavior change. Although interventions often employ fear appeals in an effort to motivate change, both theory and a growing body of empirical evidence suggest that positive affect and emotions can promote change by serving as proximal rewards for desired behaviors. This article reviews examples of such efforts in the domains of healthy diet and exercise, prosocial behavior, and pro-environmental behavior, documenting the strong potential offered by behavioral interventions using this approach. The extent to which positive affect experience prospectively drives behavior change (as distinct from rewarding the desired behavior) is less clear. However, a variety of possible indirect pathways involving incidental effects of positive affect and specific positive emotions deserve rigorous future study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)222-228
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
StatePublished - Jun 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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