Positivity Resonance in Long-Term Married Couples: Multimodal Characteristics and Consequences for Health and Longevity

Jenna L. Wells, Claudia M. Haase, Emily S. Rothwell, Kendyl G. Naugle, Marcela C. Otero, Casey L. Brown, Jocelyn Lai, Kuan Hua Chen, Dyan E. Connelly, Kevin J. Grimm, Robert W. Levenson, Barbara L. Fredrickson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The Positivity Resonance Theory of coexperienced positive affect describes moments of interpersonal connection characterized by shared positive affect, caring nonverbal synchrony, and biological synchrony. The construct validity of positivity resonance and its longitudinal associations with health have not been tested. The current longitudinal study examined whether positivity resonance in conflict interactions between 154 married couples predicts health trajectories over 13 years and longevity over 30 years. We used couples’ continuous ratings of affect during the interactions to capture coexperienced positive affect and continuous physiological responses to capture biological synchrony between spouses. Video recordings were behaviorally coded for coexpressed positive affect, synchronous nonverbal affiliation cues (SNAC), and behavioral indicators of positivity resonance (BIPR). To evaluate construct validity, we conducted a confirmatory factor analysis to test a latent factor of positivity resonance encompassing coexperienced positive affect, coexpressed positive affect, physiological linkage of interbeat heart intervals, SNAC, and BIPR. The model showed excellent fit. To evaluate associations with health and longevity, we used dyadic latent growth curve modeling and Cox proportional hazards modeling, respectively, and found that greater latent positivity resonance predicted less steep declines in health and increased longevity. Associations were robust when accounting for initial health symptoms, sociodemographic characteristics, health-related behaviors, and individually experienced positive affect. We repeated health and longevity analyses, replacing latent positivity resonance with BIPR, and found consistent results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)983-1003
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 31 2022


  • Affective science
  • Broaden-and-build theory
  • Dyadic interaction
  • Health psychology
  • Positive psychology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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