Looking at the eyes of happiness: Positive emotions mediate the influence of life satisfaction on attention to happy faces

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Looking at the eyes of happiness: Positive emotions mediate the influence of life satisfaction on attention to happy faces

Despite significant advancements in the research of subjective well-being (SWB) little is known about its connection with basic cognitive processes. The present study explores the association between selective attention to emotional stimuli (i.e. emotional faces) and both the emotional and cognitive components of SWB (i.e. emotional well-being and satisfaction in life respectively). Participants (N = 83) were asked to freely watch a series of 84 pairs of emotional (happy angry or sad) and neutral faces from the Karolinska Directed Emotional Faces database. Eye-tracking methodology measured first fixations number of fixations and the time spent looking at emotional faces. Results showed that both the emotional and cognitive components of SWB were related to a general bias to attend to happy faces and avoid sad faces. Yet bootstrapping analyses showed that positive emotions rather than life satisfaction were responsible for the positive information-processing bias. We discuss the potential functionality of these biases and their implications for research on positive emotions.

Citation: 
The Journal of Positive Psychology , 2014 Vol. 9, No. 5, 435 – 448

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