Effects of mentally subtracting positive events on emotions in Japanese college students

  • K. Hatori
  • I. Ishimura
  • M. Kodama


Background This study examined the effects of mentally subtracting positive events on positive and negative emotion. Methods Participants Twenty Japanese college students (10 male, 10 female) were randomly assigned to one of the two experimental conditions: 1) 12 (7 male, 5 female) were assigned the task of mentally subtracting (MS) present positive situations and 2) 8 (3 male, 5 female) were assigned the task of counting gratitude (CG) that had occurred during the previous week. Measures We used a Japanese version of the Mood-Emotion Rating Scale-20 developed by Fukushima and Takahashi (2003) which measures general positive and negative emotions. Design The experimental design used two independent variables—condition (MS and CG) and time (pre-session and post-session) and two dependent variables―positive emotion and negative emotion at pre-test and post-test. Analysis We conducted two-way ANOVA. Findings Mixed analysis of variance revealed that the MS group’s negative emotion was significantly lower post-intervention compared to pre-intervention. Moreover, after the intervention, results of the MS group showed a significant increase in positive emotion compared to pre-intervention. We could not find any significant effect on negative and positive emotion for the CG group. Discussion Overall, the effects of MS intervention seemed to be superior to CG in this study. The results of this study were interpreted that people who imagined present good situations may not have occurred in their life improved more emotional status than people who simply counted present good situations. These results were same as previous study (Koo et al., 2008).
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