The broaden-and-build theory (Fredrickson, 1998, 2001) hypothesises that positive emotions broaden the scope of attention and thought-action repertoires.

Two experiments with 104 college students tested these hypotheses. In each, participants viewed a film that elicited (a) amusement, (b) contentment, (c) neutrality, (d) anger, or (e) anxiety.

Scope of attention was assessed using a global-local visual processing task (Experiment 1) and thought-action repertoires were assessed using a Twenty Statements Test (Experiment 2).

Compared to a neutral state, positive emotions broadened the scope of attention in Experiment 1 and thought-action repertoires in Experiment 2. In Experiment 2, negative emotions, relative to a neutral state, narrowed thought-action repertoires.

Implications for promoting emotional well-being and physical health are discussed.