by RF Baumeister · 2001 · Cited by 8181 — The greater power of bad events over good ones is found in everyday events, major life events (e.g., trauma), close relationship outcomes, social network

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Review of General Psychology2001. Vol. 5. No. 4. 323-370Copyright 2001 by the Educational Publishing Foundation1089-2680/O1/S5.O0 DOI: 10.1037//1089-2680.5.4.323Bad Is Stronger Than GoodRoy F. Baumeister and Ellen BratslavskyCase Western Reserve UniversityCatrin FinkenauerFree University of AmsterdamKathleen D. VohsCase Western Reserve UniversityThe greater power of bad events over good ones is found in everyday events, major lifeevents (e.g., trauma), close relationship outcomes, social network patterns, interper-sonal interactions, and learning processes. Bad emotions, bad parents, and bad feedbackhave more impact than good ones, and bad information is processed more thoroughlythan good. The self is more motivated to avoid bad self-definitions than to pursue goodones. Bad impressions and bad stereotypes are quicker to form and more resistant todisconfirmation than good ones. Various explanations such as diagnosticity and sa-lience help explain some findings, but the greater power of bad events is still foundwhen such variables are controlled. Hardly any exceptions (indicating greater power ofgood) can be found. Taken together, these findings suggest that bad is stronger thangood, as a general principle across a broad range of psychological phenomena.Centuries of literary efforts and religiousthought have depicted human life in terms of astruggle between good and bad forces. At themetaphysical level, evil gods or devils are theopponents of the divine forces of creation andharmony. At the individual level, temptationand destructive instincts battle against strivingsfor virtue, altruism, and fulfillment. “Good” and”bad” are among the first words and conceptslearned by children (and even by house pets),and most people can readily characterize almostany experience, emotion, or outcome as good orbad.What form does this eternal conflict take inpsychology? The purpose of this article is toreview evidence pertaining to the general hy-Roy F. Baumeister, Ellen Bratslavsky, and Kathleen D.Vohs, Department of Psychology, Case Western ReserveUniversity; Catrin Finkenauer, Department of Psychology,Free University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.Ellen Bratslavsky in now at the Department of Psychol-ogy, Ohio State University.We thank the many people who have contributed helpfulcomments and references. This work is dedicated to thememory of Warren.Correspondence concerning this article should be ad-dressed to Roy F. Baumeister or Kathleen D. Vohs, Depart-ment of Psychology, Case Western Reserve University,10900 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44106-7123. Elec-tronic mail may be sent to either that bad is stronger than good (see alsoRozin & Royzman, in press). That is, eventsthat are negatively valenced (e.g., losingmoney, being abandoned by friends, and receiv-ing criticism) will have a greater impact on theindividual than positively valenced events ofthe same type (e.g., winning money, gainingfriends, and receiving praise). This is not to saythat bad will always triumph over good, spellingdoom and misery for the human race. Rather,good may prevail over bad by superior force ofnumbers: Many good events can overcome thepsychological effects of a single bad one. Whenequal measures of good and bad are present,however, the psychological effects of bad onesoutweigh those of the good ones. This may infact be a general principle or law of psycholog-ical phenomena, possibly reflecting the innatepredispositions of the psyche or at least reflect-ing the almost inevitable adaptation of eachindividual to the exigencies of daily life.This pattern has already been recognized incertain research domains. This is probably mosttrue in the field of impression formation, inwhich the positive-negative asymmetry effecthas been repeatedly confirmed (e.g., Anderson,1965; Peeters & Czapinski, 1990; Skowronski& Carlston, 1989). In general, and apart from afew carefully crafted exceptions, negative infor-mation receives more processing and contrib-323

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324BAUMEISTER, BRATSLAVSKY, FINKENAUER, AND VOHSutes more strongly to the final impression thandoes positive information. Learning somethingbad about a new acquaintance carries moreweight than learning something good, by andlarge.In other spheres, the effect seems present butnot recognized. For example, nearly every psy-chology textbook teaches that propinquitybreeds attraction. This conclusion is based onthe landmark study by Festinger, Schachter, andBack (1950) in which the formation of friend-ships in a married students’ dormitory wastracked over time. Contrary to elaborate hypoth-eses about similarity, role complementarity,values, and other factors, the strongest predictorof who became friends was physical propin-quity: Participants who lived closest to eachother were most likely to become friends.Yet a lesser known follow-up by Ebbesen,Kjos, and Konecni (1976) found that propin-quity predicted the formation of disliking evenmore strongly than liking. Living near one an-other increased the likelihood that two peoplewould become enemies even more strongly thanit predicted the likelihood that they would be-come friends. Propinquity thus does not causeliking. More probably, it simply amplifies theeffect of other variables and events. Becausebad events are stronger than good ones, anidentical increase in propinquity produces moreenemies than friends.The relative strength of bad may also berelevant to the topics studied by research psy-chologists. As president of the American Psy-chological Association, Martin Seligman (1999)called for a “positive psychology” movement tooffset the negative focus that he saw as domi-nating most of psychology’s history. The nega-tive focus was first documented by Carlson’s(1966) survey of psychology textbooks, inwhich he found twice as many chapters (121 vs.52) devoted to unpleasant as to pleasant emo-tions, and a similar imbalance was found inlines of coverage and use of specific words.More recently, Czapinski (1985) coded morethan 17,000 research articles in psychologyjournals and found that the coverage of negativeissues and phenomena exceeded positive, goodones 69% to 31%, a bias that was fairly strongacross all areas of psychology (although weak-est in social psychology). Seligman is probablyquite right in proposing that psychologists havefocused most of their theoretical and empiricalefforts on understanding the bad rather than thegood.Why has this been so? Undoubtedly, onehypothesis might be that psychologists are pes-simistic misanthropes or sadists who derive per-verse satisfaction from studying human suffer-ing and failure. An alternative explanation,however, would be that psychology has con-sisted of young researchers trying to obtain pub-lishable findings in a relatively new science thatwas characterized by weak measures and highvariance. They needed to study the strongestpossible effects in order for the truth to shinethrough the gloom of error variance and toregister on their measures. If bad is strongerthan good, then early psychologists would in-evitably gravitate toward studying the negativeand troubled side of human life, whereas themore positive phenomena had to wait until therecent emergence of stronger methods, moresensitive measures, and better statisticaltechniques.The goal of this review is to draw together theasymmetrical effects of bad and good across adeliberately broad range of phenomena. Even intopic areas in which this asymmetry has beenrecognized (as in impression formation), re-searchers have not generally linked it to patternsin other topic areas and may therefore haveoverlooked the full extent of its generality. Thepresent investigation is intended to providesome perspective on just how broadly valid it isthat bad is stronger than good. We certainly donot intend to claim that the greater power of badthings overrides all other principles of psychol-ogy. Other relevant phenomena may includecongruency effects (good goes with good; badgoes with bad) and self-aggrandizing patterns(bad can be avoided or transformed into good).Nevertheless, the general principle that bad isstronger than good may have important impli-cations for human psychology and behavior.Definition implies rendering one concept interms of others, and the most fundamental onestherefore will resist satisfactory definition.Good, bad, and strength are among the mostuniversal and fundamental terms (e.g., Cassirer,1955; Osgood & Tzeng, 1990), and it could beargued that they refer to concepts that are un-derstood even by creatures with minimal lin-guistic capacity (such as small children andeven animals). By good we understand desir-able, beneficial, or pleasant outcomes including

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BAD IS STRONGER THAN GOOD325states or consequences. Bad is the opposite:undesirable, harmful, or unpleasant. Strengthrefers to the causal impact. To say that bad isstronger than good is thus to say that bad thingswill produce larger, more consistent, more mul-tifaceted, or more lasting effects than goodthings.A Brief Discussion: Why Should Bad BeStronger Than Good?Offering an explanation for the greater powerof bad than good is likely to be an inherentlydifficult enterprise. The very generality of thepattern entails that there are likely to be fewprinciples that are even more broad and general.Meanwhile, researchers will have found lowerlevel explanations that help explain why badmay be stronger than good with regard to spe-cific, narrowly defined phenomena.From our perspective, it is evolutionarilyadaptive for bad to be stronger than good. Webelieve that throughout our evolutionary his-tory, organisms that were better attuned to badthings would have been more likely to survivethreats and, consequently, would have increasedprobability of passing along their genes. As anexample, consider the implications of foregoingoptions or ignoring certain possible outcomes.A person who ignores the possibility of a pos-itive outcome may later experience significantregret at having missed an opportunity for plea-sure or advancement, but nothing directly terri-ble is likely to result. In contrast, a person whoignores danger (the possibility of a bad out-come) even once may end up maimed or dead.Survival requires urgent attention to possiblebad outcomes, but it is less urgent with regard togood ones. Hence, it would be adaptive to bepsychologically designed to respond to badmore strongly than good. After we review theevidence for the phenomenon of bad beingstronger than good, we present a more completediscussion of the theoretical reasons for thestrength of bad over good and also review othertheories that have been proposed in the contextof specific subareas (e.g., impression formation).EvidenceThe purpose of the following sections is toreview evidence pertaining to the central hy-pothesis that bad is stronger than good. Toestablish the breadth of the pattern, we try toidentify many seemingly different and diversespheres in which bad is stronger than good.Given the breadth of the hypothesis, it is prob-ably not possible to cover every study that hasever found bad to be stronger than good in anysphere. We have, however, tried to cover asmuch as possible and to provide evidence forthe effect in as many different spheres as pos-sible. How did we accomplish this? Unlikemore focused narrative reviews or meta-analy-ses, we were unable to conduct a systematicsearch using keywords such as good or bad.Instead, we made an effort to cast as broad a netas possible and then focus our search on severalresearch areas. As part of this process, we madea request via e-mail to the members of theSociety for Personality and Social Psychologylist-serve. The roughly 100 responses receivedfrom these members served as a starting pointfor our search. After dividing our review intoseveral topic areas, we then set out to uncoverthose studies that compared the relative strengthof good and bad effects, especially those thatalso included a neutral control group.The central goal of this review is to establishconvergence across multiple areas. The consis-tency of conclusions across each area is moreimportant than the robustness or methodologi-cal strength of evidence in each specific area.We attempt to do justice to each area, but ouremphasis is on breadth (and on the quest for anypatterns in the opposite direction), so it seemeddesirable to cover as many different areas aspossible.Reacting to EventsAll lives contain both good and bad events. Ifbad is stronger than good, then the bad eventswill have longer lasting and more intense con-sequences than good events. In particular, theeffects of good events should dissipate morerapidly than the effects of bad events. Thisshould occur despite the mechanisms describedby Taylor (1991), by which many people striveto minimize bad events and distance themselvesfrom them, although those minimizing pro-cesses should limit the impact of bad events andpossibly produce some contrary findings.A widely accepted account of the impact oflife events was put forward by Helson (1964)

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326BAUMEISTER, BRATSLAVSKY, FINKENAUER, AND VOHSand called adaptation level theory. In this view,the impact of substantial changes in life circum-stances is temporary. People (and animals) reactmore to changes than to stable conditions, sothey are most sensitive to new conditions.Change, therefore, produces strong reactions,but the circumstances that result from thechange gradually cease to elicit a reaction andeventually become taken for granted. Applyingthis theory to human happiness, Brickman andCampbell (1971) postulated a “hedonic tread-mill” by which long-term happiness will remainroughly constant regardless of what happensbecause the impact of both good and bad eventswill wear off over time.In testing the hedonic treadmill, however, itemerged that bad events wear off more slowlythan good events. Brickman, Coates, andJanoff-Bulman (1978) interviewed three groupsof respondents: people who had won a lottery,people who had been paralyzed in an accident,and people who had not recently experiencedany such major life event. The lottery wins andaccidents had occurred about 1 year before theinterview. Confirming the hypothesis for posi-tive events, the lottery winners did not reportgreater happiness than the two other groups.Brickman et al. proposed that this result wasdue to habituation, as the adaptation level phe-nomenon would predict: The euphoria over thelottery win did not last, and the winners’ hap-piness levels quickly returned to what they hadbeen before the lottery win. Ironically, perhaps,the only lasting effect of winning the lotteryappeared to be the bad ones, such as a reductionin enjoyment of ordinary pleasures.In contrast to the transitory euphoria of goodfortune, the accident victims were much slowerto adapt to their fate, Brickman et al. (1978)found. They rated themselves as significantlyless happy than participants in the control con-dition. The victims continued to compare theircurrent situation with how their lives had beenbefore the accident (unlike lottery winners, whodid not seem to spend much time thinking howtheir lives had improved from the bygone daysof relative poverty). Brickman et al. called thisphenomenon the “nostalgia effect” (p. 921).The seeming implication of these findings isthat adaptation-level effects are asymmetrical,consistent with the view that bad is strongerthan good. Adaptation-level effects tend to pre-vent any lasting changes in overall happinessand instead return people to their baseline. Aftera short peak in happiness, people become ac-customed to the new situation and are no morehappy than they were before the improvement.After a serious misfortune, however, people ad-just less quickly, even though many victimsultimately do recover (Taylor, 1983).Comparison of unanticipated financial out-comes can equate the objective magnitude ofevents. Kahneman and Tversky (1984) had par-ticipants perform thought experiments in whichthey either gained or lost the same amount ofmoney. The distress participants reported overlosing some money was greater than the joy orhappiness that accompanied gaining the sameamount of money. Put another way, you aremore upset about losing $50 than you are happyabout gaining $50.In a prospective study of stress in pregnantwomen, Wells, Hobfoll, and Lavin (1999) ex-amined gains and losses of resources early inpregnancy and measured postpartum outcomesincluding depression and anger. Gains in re-sources had no significant effects, but lossesproduced significant effects on postpartum an-ger (even after controlling for anger at the timeof initial measurement, which included anger atthe loss of resources). Wells et al. also foundthat effects of subsequent losses of resourceswere significantly higher among women whohad experienced the previous losses; whereas ifthey had not had the initial loss, the effect of thelater loss was muted. These findings point to asnowballing effect of consecutive bad out-comes. Good outcomes did not produce anysuch effects.Developmental and clinical observationslikewise suggest that single bad events are farstronger than even the strongest good ones. Var-ious studies reveal long-term harmful conse-quences of child abuse or sexual abuse, includ-ing depression, relationship problems, revictim-ization, and sexual dysfunction, even if theabuse occurred only once or twice (Cahill,Llewelyn, & Pearson, 1991; Fleming, Mullen,Sibthorpe, & Bammer, 1999; Silver, Boon, &Stones, 1983; Styron & Janoff-Bulman, 1997;Weiss, Longhurst, & Mazure, 1999). These ef-fects seem more durable than any comparablepositive aspect of childhood, and it also seemsdoubtful (although difficult to prove) that a sin-gle positive event could offset the harm causedby a single episode of violent or sexual abuse;

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BAD IS STRONGER THAN GOOD327whereas the single negative event can probablyundo the benefits of many positive interactions.Sexuality offers a sphere in which relevantcomparisons can perhaps be made, insofar asgood sexual experiences are often regarded asamong the best and most intense positive expe-riences people have. Ample evidence suggeststhat a single bad experience in the sexual do-main can impair sexual functioning and enjoy-ment and even have deleterious effects onhealth and well-being for years afterward (seeLaumann, Gagon, Michael, & Michaels, 1994;Laumann, Paik, & Rosen, 1999; Rynd, 1988;note, however, that these are correlational find-ings and some interpretive questions remain).There is no indication that any good sexualexperience, no matter how good, can producebenefits in which magnitude is comparable tothe harm caused by such victimization.Turning from major experiences to everydayactions, we find the same pattern of greaterpower for the unpleasant than the pleasantevents. A diary study by David, Green, Martin,and Suls (1997) examined the effects of every-day good and bad events, as well as personalitytraits. Undesirable (bad) events had more per-vasive effects on subsequent mood than desir-able (good) ones. Although each type of eventinfluenced the relevant mood (i.e., bad eventsinfluenced bad mood, and good events predictedgood mood) to similar degrees, bad events hadan additional effect on the opposite-valencemood that was lacking for good events. In otherwords, bad events influenced both good and badmoods, whereas good events influenced onlygood moods. Similar findings emerged whenDavid et al. compared neuroticism (associatedwith distress and negativity) and extraversion(associated with positivity). Neuroticism influ-enced both good and bad moods, whereas ex-traversion affected only good moods.Further evidence of the greater power of badevents emerged from a 3-week longitudinalstudy by Nezlek and Gable (1999). Their par-ticipants furnished multiple measures of adjust-ment each day, as well as recording dailyevents. Bad events had stronger effects on ad-justment than good events on an everyday basis.The superior strength of bad events was consis-tent across their full range of measures of ad-justment, including self-esteem, anxiety, causaluncertainty, perceived control over the environ-ment, and depressogenic cognitions about thefuture, the self, and life in general.How long the impact of everyday events lastswas studied by Sheldon, Ryan, and Reis (1996).Bad events had longer lasting effects. In theirdata, having a good day did not have any no-ticeable effect on a person’s well-being the fol-lowing day, whereas having a bad day did carryover and influence the next day. Specifically,after a bad day, participants were likely to havelower well-being on the next day. Although theresults are technically correlational, somethingmust cause them, whether it is the bad day itselfcausing the subsequent bad day or some othercause producing the consecutive pair of baddays. Either way, the bad has stronger powerthan good because only the bad reliably pro-duced consecutive bad days.Even at the sensory level, bad events seem toproduce stronger reactions than good ones. Ex-pressive reactions to unpleasant, pleasant, andneutral odors were examined by Gilbert, Frid-lund, and Sabini (1987). Participants smelledvarious odors while alone, and their facial ex-pressions were videotaped. Raters then watchedthe tapes and tried to infer the odor from thefacial reaction. Unpleasant odors were most ac-curately classified, partly because more facialmovement was perceived in the unpleasant odortrials. Pleasant odors elicited more facial move-ment than neutral odors, but the neutral oneswere still rated more accurately than the posi-tive ones. Thus, responses to unpleasant odorswere apparently stronger, at least to the extentthat they could be accurately recognized byraters.Perhaps the broadest manifestation of thegreater power of bad events than good to elicitlasting reactions is contained in the psychologyof trauma. The very concept of trauma hasproven broadly useful, and psychologists havefound it helpful in many different domains.Many kinds of traumas produce severe and last-ing effects on behavior, but there is no corre-sponding concept of a positive event that canhave similarly strong and lasting effects. In asense, trauma has no true opposite concept. Asingle traumatic experience can have long-termeffects on the person’s health, well-being, atti-tudes, self-esteem, anxiety, and behavior; manysuch effects have been documented. In contrast,there is little evidence that single positive expe-riences can have equally influential conse-

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328BAUMEISTER, BRATSLAVSKY, FINKENAUER, AND VOHSquences. It is possible that such events havesimply eluded psychological study, but it seemsmore likely that the lack of an opposite conceptfor trauma indicates the greater power of badthan good single events to affect people.Although the findings from Brickman et al.(1978) and others reviewed in this section pro-vide vivid and well-known indications that badevents produce stronger, more lasting reactionsthan good ones, some of the studies suffer froma possible asymmetry in the objective magni-tude of the event. There is no way to ascertainobjectively that winning a lottery is comparablein magnitude to becoming paralyzed by an ac-cident. The diary studies have the advantage ofhaving used all the events of the day, so theseare methodologically more useful. Most con-vincing are the studies that attempted to ensureequal objective magnitudes (such as when peo-ple gain vs. lose the same amount of money)because these permit the firmest conclusionsthat bad events produce stronger reactions.Therefore, throughout the rest of this review, weemphasize studies that either did manage toequate the good and the bad events in terms oftheir objective magnitude or that took somebroad, representative or exhaustive sample ofevents.In summary, most findings indicate that peo-ple react more strongly to bad than good events.The evidence covers everything from minor ev-eryday events and brief experimental exposureto aversive odors to major life events and trau-mas. Bad events produce more emotion, havebigger effects on adjustment measures, andhave longer lasting effects.Close RelationshipsOne of the central tasks and goals of humanlife is to sustain a network of close relationshipscharacterized by mutual caring and pleasant,supportive interactions (e.g., Baumeister &Leary, 1995). Unfortunately, many relation-ships fail to last, and others are sometimes lessthan satisfactory. In this section, we reviewevidence about good versus bad patterns thatcontribute to the long-term relationship out-comes. Obviously, one would expect that bad,destructive characteristics of the relationshipwill hasten its demise; whereas good, construc-tive ones will preserve it. The relevant predic-tion goes beyond that, however: The harmfuleffects of the bad characteristics will exert moreinfluence over the relationship outcome than thebeneficial effects of the good characteristics.People commonly believe that positivity ofcommunication (as opposed to negativity) isassociated with high relational satisfaction (e.g.,friendships, marriages, partnerships, and fami-lies). In general, research findings are consistentwith this assumption. People satisfied with theirrelationships communicate with more positiveverbal behaviors (e.g., agreement, confirmation,constructive problem solving, politeness, ex-pressing forgiveness) and nonverbal behaviors(e.g., smiling, head nodding, caring, or con-cerned voice; for more detailed descriptions ofthese behaviors, see Gottman, 1979; Riskin &Faunce, 1970; Rusbult, Johnson, & Morrow,1986; Stafford & Canary, 1991; Ting-Toomey,1983; Wills, Weiss, & Patterson, 1974). On thecontrary, people dissatisfied with their relation-ships communicate with more negative verbalbehaviors (e.g., insults, threats, or criticisms)and nonverbal behaviors (e.g., frowning orspeaking in a cold hard voice).More important, however, positive and neg-ative communication have different impacts onrelational satisfaction, and the negative aremore decisive. To show this, John Gottman andhis colleagues (Gottman, 1979, 1994) video-taped married couples in the laboratory and athome as they talked about a wide variety oftopics such as how their day went, the nutri-tional value of certain foods, marital problemsin general, and specific conflicts in their rela-tionship. They then coded the couple’s behav-iors in categories (e.g., verbal, nonverbal, pos-itive, and negative). The findings indicated thatthe presence or absence of negative behaviorswas more strongly related to the quality of cou-ples’ relationships than the presence or absenceof positive behaviors. Positivity and negativitywere independent, in the sense that increasingone did not necessarily decrease the other. Theimportant implication is that increasing positivebehaviors in a relationship will not affect therelationship as much as decreasing negative be-haviors. In another study in which videotapedmarital interactions were used, Gottman andKrokoff (1989) found that negative interactionspredicted marital satisfaction more stronglythan positive interactions.The effects of emotional interactions onchanges in relationship satisfaction were exam-

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330BAUMEISTER, BRATSLAVSKY, FINKENAUER, AND VOHSThe power of bad sexual experiences, then, faroutweighs the benefits of good sexual experi-ences within a marriage.One factor that may contribute to some ofthese effects is that destructive behaviors areunderstood better than constructive ones.Acitelli, Douvan, and Veroff (1993) found thatduring the early years of marriage, couples per-ceived and understood each other’s destructivebehaviors better than the constructive ones.Acitelli et al. interpreted this as based on thegreater visibility and recall of bad, destructivebehaviors. As Kellermann (1984) has noted,however, such explanations are not theoreticallycomplete because they fail to say why badevents are more readily noticed and recalled.Daily reports of spousal behaviors and mari-tal satisfaction were made for 2 weeks by par-ticipants in a study by Wills et al. (1974). Of theamount of variance (in marital satisfaction) thatthe predictor variables were able to explain inregression analyses, the majority (65%) wascaptured by the aversive, displeasurable behav-iors. This was significantly greater than theamount explained by supportive, pleasurablebehaviors (25%). This was true despite the factthat there were about three times as many pos-itive behaviors as aversive ones. The greaterpower of the bad behaviors had to overcometheir lesser number in order to produce a stron-ger effect.Reciprocation patterns were also examinedby Wills et al. (1974). Interspouse correlationsindicated that negative, displeasurable behav-iors were reciprocated to a significant degree,whereas the reciprocation of positive, pleasur-able behaviors was weaker and not significant.This is an important step toward explaining thegreater power of bad events to affect relation-ship outcomes: The couples’ subsequent inter-actions are apparently more directly and consis-tently affected by bad than good behaviors. Aswith the daily events reviewed in the precedingsection, couple interactions continue to be af-fected by bad more than good.The relative contributions of stress (negativefactors), social support (positive), and resources(positive) to the quality of family life wereassessed in an extensive telephone survey byPittman and Lloyd (1988). Both marital satis-faction and parental satisfaction were morestrongly affected by the bad events (i.e., thestresses) than by the positive (i.e., support andresources). Thus, negativity and stress addedmore than 20% to the amount of variance inmarital satisfaction that was explained, whereaspositive support and resources added only 5%.All in all, the evidence is fairly clear andunanimous in indicating that relationships aremore affected by bad events than good ones. Asseen in daily interactions, broad patterns, affectof problem solving, and marital communica-tion, bad events have stronger effects than goodevents. Reciprocation of bad responses appearsto be especially powerful for leading to deteri-oration and breakup of close relationships.Other Relationships and InteractionsAlthough close relationships have receivedthe greatest amount of study, there is also somerelevant information regarding not-so-close re-lationships and other forms of interpersonal in-teraction. We report several such studies here,although the research on formation of initialimpressions is covered in a separate sectionlater in the article.Sociometric studies have examined how in-dividuals perceive each other within establishedgroups or social networks. If bad is strongerthan good, then dislike and social rejectionshould be more pronounced, which would bereflected in higher agreement throughout thesocial network. A meta-analysis of sociometricstudies of children recently confirmed this con-clusion (Newcomb, Bukowski, & Pattee, 1993).In particular, the two social extremes were rep-resented by the highly popular children and therejected children, and these were about the sameproportions (9% and 12% of the groups, respec-tively, on average). Consistency of reportsacross the children, as well as for self-reportsand for ratings by teachers and parents, washigher for the rejected than for the popularchildren. In other words, all perspectives agreemore about who is rejected than about who ispopular.Another approach to the same problem is toexamine the link between naming someone as”best friend” or “worst enemy” and overall rat-ings of ability. An ambitious study by French,Waas, and Tarver-Behring (1986) obtained ex-tensive sociometric data from 250 third- andfourth-grade children. All children listed theirthree most and least desired friends, as well aslisting the three best and worst peers at sports

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