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A growing literature shows that the ability to control affective information in working memory (WM) plays an important role in emotional functioning. Whereas most studies have focused on executive processes relating to emotion dysregulation and mood disorders, few, if any, have looked at such processes in association with happiness. In this study, we examined whether the ability to update positive and negative stimuli in WM (assessed with an affective n-back task) is related to the cognitive and affective components of subjective well-being. Participants who were better at retaining and updating specifically positive (not negative) information in WM displayed higher levels of life satisfaction and affect balance, both at the trait level and in daily life. These results suggest that effective updating of positive information in WM may underlie happy people’s ability to maintain and further enhance positive thoughts and emotions.

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Journal Article

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