Models for coaching
Useful in coaching for Exploring Options, Making a Change, Self-Awareness, Understanding Behaviour
- What is Broaden-and-Build Theory?
- History of Broaden-and-Build Theory
- How Broaden-and-Build Theory fits into Positive Psychology
- Examples of using Broaden-and-Build Theory in real life
- Broaden-and-Build Theory Process
- How to use Broaden-and-Build Theory in coaching
What is Broaden-and-Build Theory?
The Broaden-and-Build Theory is a psychological model that aims to explain the role of positive emotions in human life. According to this theory, positive emotions serve to broaden our thought-action repertoires, which in turn helps us to build enduring personal resources such as resilience, social support, and overall wellbeing. In other words, experiencing positive emotions allows us to think more creatively, engage in a wider range of activities, and establish stronger relationships with others.
The foundation of the Broaden-and-Build Theory is the idea that positive emotions have an adaptive function in our lives. This means that they are not just short-lived reactions to pleasant events, but rather, they have a lasting impact on our psychological and social functioning. By fostering a more expansive mindset, positive emotions enable us to approach life with greater curiosity, openness, and flexibility, which ultimately leads to better outcomes in various domains of life.
In contrast, negative emotions tend to narrow our focus and limit our behavioral options. For example, fear can cause us to become overly cautious and avoidant, while anger might lead to aggressive and confrontational behaviors. While these reactions might be helpful in some situations, they can be maladaptive if they become our predominant emotional response. The Broaden-and-Build Theory suggests that cultivating positive emotions is essential for promoting overall psychological health and wellbeing.
History of Broaden-and-Build Theory
The Broaden-and-Build Theory was first introduced by psychologist Barbara Fredrickson in her seminal paper published in 1998 (Fredrickson, 1998). Since then, the theory has been supported by numerous empirical studies and has become a cornerstone of positive psychology – a subfield of psychology that focuses on human flourishing and optimal functioning.
Fredrickson’s work has significantly contributed to the understanding of the importance of positive emotions in our lives. In her book, Positivity, she elaborates on the Broaden-and-Build Theory and provides practical advice on how to cultivate positive emotions in daily life. Additionally, she has developed an intervention called Loving-Kindness Meditation, which has been shown to increase positive emotions and promote psychological wellbeing.
How Broaden-and-Build Theory fits into Positive Psychology
Positive psychology is a relatively new branch of psychology that aims to understand and promote human flourishing by focusing on positive emotions, character strengths, and positive institutions. The Broaden-and-Build Theory fits perfectly within this framework, as it emphasizes the importance of positive emotions in promoting psychological health, personal growth, and overall wellbeing.
One of the key tenets of positive psychology is that human beings have a natural tendency towards growth and development. The Broaden-and-Build Theory supports this idea by demonstrating that positive emotions play a crucial role in fostering personal growth and adaptation. By broadening our thought-action repertoires and building enduring personal resources, positive emotions help us to navigate life’s challenges and achieve our full potential.
Moreover, the Broaden-and-Build Theory complements other theories and models within positive psychology, such as the PERMA model and Self-Determination Theory. These models emphasise the importance of positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment in promoting wellbeing, and the Broaden-and-Build Theory provides a solid theoretical foundation for these concepts.
Examples of using Broaden-and-Build Theory in real life
There are numerous ways in which the Broaden-and-Build Theory can be applied to real-life situations. For example, individuals can use the theory to improve their interpersonal relationships by focusing on cultivating positive emotions with their partners. Research has shown that couples who experience more positive emotions together, such as joy, gratitude, and love, are more likely to have happier, healthier, and longer-lasting relationships (Fincham & Beach, 2010).
In the workplace, managers can apply the Broaden-and-Build Theory to promote employee wellbeing and performance. By fostering a positive work environment and encouraging employees to experience positive emotions, managers can help their team members become more creative, collaborative, and productive. This, in turn, can lead to better organizational outcomes, such as increased job satisfaction and reduced turnover (Bledow et al., 2013).
In the educational context, teachers can use the Broaden-and-Build Theory to enhance students’ learning and academic success. Research has shown that students who experience positive emotions in the classroom are more likely to be engaged, motivated, and resilient learners (Fredrickson et al., 2008). By incorporating activities that promote positive emotions, such as collaborative learning, creative problem-solving, and mindfulness exercises, teachers can help students to thrive both academically and personally.
Broaden-and-Build Theory Process
1. Positive Emotions
The first step in the Broaden-and-Build process is the experience of positive emotions. These emotions, such as joy, interest, and gratitude, serve as the catalyst for broadening our thought-action repertoires and building enduring personal resources. By cultivating positive emotions, we can improve our overall psychological health and wellbeing.
2. Broadening – Novel thoughts, activities, relationships
The second step in the Broaden-and-Build process is broadening, which involves engaging in novel thoughts, activities, and relationships. Positive emotions encourage us to think more creatively, take on new challenges, and form stronger connections with others. This expanded mindset allows us to explore new possibilities, learn new skills, and create a more experiences.
3. Building enduring personal resources (resilience, social support)
The third step in the Broaden-and-Build process is building enduring personal resources, such as resilience and social support. As we broaden our thought-action repertoires and engage in new experiences, we develop the psychological and social resources necessary to cope with life’s challenges and setbacks. This, in turn, enhances our resilience and overall wellbeing.
4. Enhancement, survival, fulfilment
The fourth step in the Broaden-and-Build process involves enhancement, survival, and fulfilment. By cultivating positive emotions and building personal resources, we are better equipped to navigate life’s complexities and achieve our full potential. This leads to a more fulfilling, meaningful, and purpose-driven life.
5. Positive feedback loop – produces more experiences of positive emotions, creating an upward spiral
The final step in the Broaden-and-Build process is the creation of a positive feedback loop. As we experience more positive emotions and build personal resources, we become more likely to engage in activities that generate even more positive emotions. This upward spiral of positivity ultimately leads to greater psychological health, wellbeing, and overall life satisfaction.
How to use Broaden-and-Build Theory in coaching
Coaches can incorporate the Broaden-and-Build Theory into their practice by focusing on helping clients cultivate positive emotions, broaden their thought-action repertoires, and build enduring personal resources. Some strategies that coaches can use to achieve this include:
- Encouraging clients to engage in activities that they enjoy and find meaningful
- Teaching clients mindfulness and relaxation techniques to promote emotional self-regulation
- Helping clients develop a strengths-based approach to problem-solving and goal-setting
- Facilitating clients’ exploration of their values, passions, and purpose in life
- Providing clients with tools and resources for building social support networks and fostering positive relationships
By integrating the Broaden-and-Build Theory into their coaching practice, coaches can help clients achieve greater psychological health, wellbeing, and overall life satisfaction.
In conclusion, the Broaden-and-Build Theory is a powerful psychological model that explains the important role of positive emotions in promoting human flourishing and wellbeing. By fostering a more expansive mindset, positive emotions enable us to approach life with greater curiosity, openness, and flexibility, which ultimately leads to better outcomes in various domains of life.
The Broaden-and-Build Theory has numerous practical applications, including in interpersonal relationships, the workplace, and education. Furthermore, coaches can use the theory to help clients cultivate positive emotions, broaden their thought-action repertoires, and build enduring personal resources, ultimately leading to greater psychological health and overall life satisfaction.
By understanding and applying the principles of the Broaden-and-Build Theory, we can unlock our full potential and create a more fulfilling, meaningful, and purpose-driven life.
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