Broaden-and-build theory is the idea that when we experience positive emotions, we become more open, our attention is expanded, and we are more likely to explore new and varied possibilities.
For instance, when we feel curious about something, we are more open to learning about it. When we feel compassionate and loving toward someone, we are more likely to work at building a good relationship with them. Being excited makes us brave; feeling gratitude makes us generous.
Over time, the combined effects of positive emotion can lead to long-lasting changes in behaviour and awareness. By cultivating and taking advantage of our positive emotions, we can develop a set of psychological, intellectual, physical and social resources.
Broaden-and-build theory was developed by Professor Barbara Frederickson and is a key area of research in Positive Psychology.