Are happy children socially successful? Testing a central premise of positive psychology in a sample of preschool childrenedit
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.