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Engaging in and responding to daily positive events : roles of personality and age Klaiber, Patrick


Mounting evidence suggests that positive events are linked to better health and well-being, yet little is known about what contributes to how frequently one engages in positive events (engagement), how one responds to these events, and how diverse these experiences are (positive event diversity). This dissertation focuses on the contributions of age and personality in the experience of daily positive events and the implications of these events for health and well-being. Study 1 (N = 776) examined age as a predictor of daily positive and negative events during the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Spring of 2020, a time of major stress and uncertainty across all segments of society. Compared to younger and middle-aged adults, older adults experienced fewer daily stressors, more positive events, and smaller reductions in negative affect when positive events occurred. Study 2 (Ns = 1919, 778) focused on the Big Five personality traits as predictors of engagement, responsiveness, and emotional experiences during positive events. Extraversion and Openness predicted a greater likelihood of experiencing positive events in daily life, and each of the Big Five traits predicted emotions experienced during the positive events such as feelings of calm, pride, and surprise. Finally, Study 3 (Ns = 1919, 778, 1393) introduced the novel concept of positive event diversity, an index of the distribution of positive events across different event types (e.g., social, work, home, nature). Contrary to the hypotheses, positive event diversity was related to worse affective well-being for people who reported high positive event frequency but was unrelated to affective well-being for people who reported low positive event frequency. In addition, positive event diversity was not linked to any of the Big Five personality traits after controlling for positive event frequency. Collectively, this series of studies sheds light on individual differences and adult developmental factors that contribute to the types of daily positive events experienced and the affective benefits generated from positive events. This knowledge can inform further investigations into pathways connecting positive events with long-term health as well as inform the development of interventions targeting daily positive events to bolster health and well-being.

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