Are happy children socially successful? testing a central premise of positive psychology in a sample of preschool children

Nana Shin, Brian E. Vaughn, Virginia Akers, Mina Kim, Sam Stevens, Lisa Krzysik, Gabrielle Coppola, Kelly K. Bost, Brent A. Mcbride, Byran Korth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Current developmental studies of affect/emotion emphasize knowledge about and regulation of affective states and/or behaviors. Expressiveness per se is rarely studied independently from knowledge and/or regulation; consequently, recent studies of young children's affect do not interface with the literature from positive psychology indicating that the chronic experience of positive affect predicts a range of desirable life outcomes. We assessed affect expressiveness for 377 preschool children in dyadic peer play. Correlation indicated that dyadic positive affect was associated with peer acceptance, visual attention received from peers, rate of initiating positive interactions, and classroom adjustment from teachers' ratings and that negative affect was associated (negatively) with peer acceptance. Negative affect was also positively associated with teacher-rated dysregulation. Subsequent multi-level regressions showed that positive and negative affect uniquely predicted most of their respective correlates when entered together as Level-1 predictors with dysregulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-367
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Positive Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This report is based in part on a thesis, submitted by Virginia Akers in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a MS Degree in Human Development and Family Studies, Auburn University. The research reported here has been supported by NSF grants BCS01-26163, BCS06-23019, and BCS08-43939. The authors express appreciation to the staff and parents of the Harris Early Learning Center in Birmingham, Alabama, and the Auburn Early Learning Center for their continued support of this project.


  • Affect expressiveness
  • Positive psychology
  • Preschool children
  • Social competence


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