The Good-Life Ratio

Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, PhD, shows how the right ratio of ratio of positive-to-negative emotions can affect happiness.


Research by psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, PhD, and colleagues has shown that it takes a tipping-point ratio of three positive emotional experiences for every negative one to create a thriving, flourishing life — as opposed to a negative, downward spiral.

Positivity grows through feelings not just of happiness, but also of pride, serenity, amusement, love, hope and interest. And people whose lives are flourishing, says Fredrickson, function on a whole different level — they are more resilient to adversity, better able to achieve goals, and report higher levels of well-being. But getting to that 3-to-1 ratio may take some focused effort: Fredrickson’s research suggests that most Americans have a positivity ratio of just 2-to-1, which tends to lead to a progressively negative outlook over time.

You can find your own ratio of positive-to-negative emotions by taking Fredrickson’s two-minute quiz at Fredrickson recommends taking the quiz each evening for two weeks to get the best picture of your overall ratio. To hear Fredrickson talk more about positivity and how you can improve your ratio, check out

Leave a Comment

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Newsletter Signup
Weekly Newsletter
Special Promotions