This study tested the hypothesis that benefits of positive and expressive writing accrue when the intervention matches or activates the participant’s personal resources. Students were randomly assigned to keep a newly developed resource diary (RD, n = 114), which asked the participants to write about positive experiences and personal resources, or an expressive writing diary (ED, n = 114), which asked the participants to engage with negative emotional experiences, at home on three consecutive days per week for four weeks. Participants keeping the RD perceived significantly more social support and reported a significantly better mood at post-test than participants keeping the ED. Compared to a control group (n = 81) treatment effects of both writing interventions were higher for participants with lower pre-test values of well-being and brooding as well as for participants who wrote in an ‘atmosphere of activated resources.’ It is suggested that research should move away from testing deficit-compensating hypotheses towards a stronger resource orientation.
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