The Positive Side of Negative Emotions

Edited by W. Gerrod Parrott

Hardcovere-bookprint + e-book
January 27, 2014
ISBN 9781462513338
Price: $49.00
304 Pages
Size: 6" x 9"
January 27, 2014
ePub and PDF ?
Price: $49.00
304 Pages
print + e-book
Hardcover + e-Book (ePub and PDF) ?
Price: $98.00 $53.90
304 Pages

This unique volume brings together state-of-the-art research showing the value of emotions that many believe to be undesirable. Leading investigators explore the functions and benefits of sadness, anxiety, anger, embarrassment, shame, guilt, jealousy, and envy. The role of these emotions in social interactions and relationships is examined, as are cultural differences in how they are valued and expressed. The volume considers how people seek out these feelings in everyday life to improve performance, gain insight, and express cares and commitments. Negative emotions are shown to have an important place in a rich and meaningful life.

“Superbly edited by a prolific researcher and leader in the field of emotion research….The contributions…are notable for the diverse, fine-grained analyses of emotion regulation they present….Highly recommended. All readers.”

Choice Reviews

“Parrott is one of the most creative thinkers and gifted writers in the field of psychology. His beautifully rendered articles on jealousy and envy and his classic 'Beyond Hedonism,' still well cited after 20 years, have always left me wanting to read more on these topics. And now we can: Parrott has assembled some of the most intriguing thinkers studying human emotion and asked them to consider how unpleasant emotions from anger to embarrassment to jealousy might actually be adaptive for individuals and societies. The contributors address issues at the heart of basic research as well as clinical practice, and they challenge long-standing assumptions about negative emotions as feelings to 'manage' or even eliminate.”

—Peter Salovey, PhD, President and Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology, Yale University

“This book is a gem! In Parrott’s beautifully orchestrated volume, a select cast of authors share important insights about emotion. Both beginners and experts will be surprised to learn from this engrossing and memorable book how beneficial our negative emotions can be.”

—Gerald L. Clore, PhD, Commonwealth Professor of Psychology, University of Virginia

“An excellent volume that provides an up-to-date overview of a timely topic. This is the first book to integrate the range of existing research on the positive effects of anger, anxiety, shame, sadness, jealousy, and other negative emotions. While offering broad coverage of different emotions and theoretical perspectives, the book has a unifying focus on the counterintuitive notion that negative emotions can be good, even if they feel bad. Students and scholars will feel challenged by the abundance of research and depth of theorizing.”

—Agneta H. Fischer, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Table of Contents

I. Specific Negative Emotions

1. Can Sadness Be Good for You?: On the Cognitive, Motivational, and Interpersonal Benefits of Negative Affect, Joseph P. Forgas

2. Anxiety as an Adaptive Emotion, Adam M. Perkins and Philip Corr

3. Anger Is a Positive Emotion, Ursula Hess

4. Can Negative Social Emotions Have Positive Consequences?: An Examination of Embarrassment, Shame, Guilt, Jealousy, and Envy, Nicole E. Henniger and Christine R. Harris

II. Social and Cultural Aspects of Negative Emotions

5. When Negative Emotions Benefit Close Relationships, Levi R. Baker, James K. McNulty, and Nickola C. Overall

6. On the Social Influence of Negative Emotional Expressions, Gerben A. Van Kleef and Stéphane Côté

7. Listening to Negative Emotions: How Culture Constrains What We Hear, Yulia E. Chentsova-Dutton, Nicole Senft, and Andrew G. Ryder

8. The Function of Negative Emotions in the Confucian Tradition, Louise Sundararajan

III. The Desirability of Negative Emotions

9. Why Might People Want to Feel Bad?: Motives in Contrahedonic Emotion Regulation, Maya Tamir and Yochanan Bigman

10. Negative Emotions and the Meaningful Sides of Media Entertainment, Mary Beth Oliver, Anne Bartsch, and Tilo Hartmann

11. The Right Tool for the Job: Functional Analysis and Evaluating Positivity/Negativity, Julie K. Norem

12. Feeling, Function, and the Place of Negative Emotions in a Happy Life, W. Gerrod Parrott

About the Editor

W. Gerrod Parrott, PhD, is Professor of Psychology at Georgetown University. His central interest is the nature of human emotion. His published work has focused on three areas: philosophical and historical approaches to the concept of emotion; emotion's social foundations and functions, including such social emotions as embarrassment, shame, guilt, envy, and jealousy; and the influence of emotion and emotional self-regulation on thought. Dr. Parrott is the author of over 75 scholarly chapters, articles, and books. He is past editor of the journal Cognition and Emotion and past president of the International Society for Research on Emotion.


Levi R. Baker, MS, Department of Psychology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida

Anne Bartsch, PhD, Department of Media, Knowledge, and Communication, University of Augsburg, Augsburg, Germany

Yochanan Bigman, BA, doctoral student, Department of Psychology, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel

Yulia E. Chentsova-Dutton, PhD, Department of Psychology, Georgetown University, Washington, DC

Philip J. Corr, PhD, Department of Psychology, City University London, London, United Kingdom

Stéphane Côté, PhD, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Joseph P. Forgas, AM, DPhil, DSc, Oxford School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Christine R. Harris, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California

Tilo Hartmann, PhD, Department of Communication Science, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Nicole E. Henniger, Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California

Ursula Hess, PhD, Institute for Psychology, Humboldt University, Berlin, Berlin, Germany

James K. McNulty, PhD, Department of Psychology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida

Julie K. Norem, PhD, Department of Psychology, Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts

Mary Beth Oliver, PhD, Department of Film/Video and Media Studies, Penn State University, University Park, Pennsylvania

Nickola C. Overall, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

W. Gerrod Parrott, PhD, Department of Psychology, Georgetown University, Washington, DC

Adam M. Perkins, PhD, Department of Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, London, United Kingdom

Andrew G. Ryder, PhD, Department of Psychology and Centre for Clinical Research in Health, Concordia University, and Culture and Mental Health Research Unit and the Lady Davis Institute, Jewish General Hospital, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Nicole Senft, BA, Department of Psychology, Georgetown University, Washington, DC

Louise Sundararajan, PhD, private practice, Rochester, New York

Maya Tamir, PhD, Department of Psychology, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel

Gerben A. Van Kleef, PhD, Department of Social Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Researchers and students in social and personality psychology and affective science.

Course Use

May serve as a supplemental text in graduate-level courses.