Motivation and emotion/Book/2019/Passion and well-being

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Passion and well-being:
What is the relationship between passion and well-being?

Overview[edit | edit source]

[Provide more detail]

  • Definitions for passion and well-being
  • Behaviours of passion and well-being
  • Using current research to optimse well-being in relation to passion

Focus questions: Crystal Clear app ktip.svg
  1. What is passion? What is well-being?
  2. How does passion impact well-being?
  3. Can passion and well-being help create or bring value to a team?

Definitions of passion and well-being[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia describes passion as an intense emotion for an object, activity or person, stating that passion drives an enthusiasm and desire. Academic studies go further into this by defining passion as “a strong inclination toward certain activities” (Murnieks, Mosakowski, & Cardon 2012) which can be broken up into two distinct factors: Obsessive and harmonious passion.

Obsessive passion is where the individual feels a pressure either within or from external forces to partake in their passion as opposed to Harmonious Passion; an individuals[grammar?] internal drive and, want to partake in their passionate activity (Carpentier, Mageau, & Vallerand, 2012).

Figure 1: passion can be seen in different behaviours

Well-being is the measure of a humans[grammar?] wellness both psychologically and physically. To have high well-being is to have both healthy psychological and physical functioning, high life satisfaction, and self-growth (Vallerand, 2012).

This chapter will discuss the relationship between passion and well-being as well as the motivations and emotions that can be seen attached to these behaviours. We will begin by looking at the different types of passion, in specifically the Dualistic Model of Passion. This will be followed by highlighting the consequences of passion, which will lead into the optimisation of well-being and passion within both an individual and a team.

What does passion look like?[edit | edit source]

Philosopher Descartes, suggests that passions create action (behaviour) which excites the ‘will’. He described passion to be an “emotional uproar” (Reeve, J. 2018). The feeling (emotion) of being passionate demonstrates itself through[grammar?]:

  • identity centrality
  • the effects of passion

For some, understanding what they are passionate about may be the most difficult part. How does one know what they are passionate about? See external link to help assist in discovering your own passion in life.

Identity centrality dives into the Self-determination Theory which consists of aspects of intrinsic motivation. Self-determination Theory suggests that people have the tendency to personalise and internalise activities to the self - how one internalises something will affect their type of passion. If an individual holds high levels of love, engagement and value towards an activity, there is a high chance that the individual will identify personally to it (Bonneville-Roussy, Lavigne, & Vallerand, 2011). An example of this is someone who plays guitar, may internalise by indentifying[spelling?] and defining themselves as a 'guitarist'. Based on their motivations to play the guitar, the effects of passion then begin to unravel (refer to Figure 1), which may be dependent of their type of passion.

Dualistic Model of Passion (DMP)[edit | edit source]

  • Harmonious - an individual's strong desire to continue an activity to grow in their identity.
  • Obsessive - individual's action in an activity without wanting to pursue the activity (aka "fitting in" type of behaviour)

Deci and Ryan (2000), suggested that the nature of harmonious passion originated from autonomous internalisation. People pursue their acitivity[spelling?] of interest because of the high value the person places on that activity, consequently identifying with it without feeling any psychological pressures to perform that activity. Engagement in their activity of interest is performed on free will and flexibility.

Figure 2. Harmonious passion can lead to higher levels of performance in that area of interest

Although research has identified this model, passion is typically positive and intense (Cardon, 2008), especially Harmonious passion (Bonneville-Roussy et al., 2011). The positive sensations and emotions attached to an activity naturally reduces the potential stress that can arise, which eventually leads to the enhanced sense of subjective well-being. On the other hand, obsessive passion is suggested to possibly have negative affects[grammar?] towards well-being, where passion comes to control the person (Vallard, 2012). Of the two, harmonious passion is the only one that enhances identity centrality. A basic layout of how the dualistic model works can be seen in Figure 3.

A study conducted by Bonneville-Roussy et al. (2011) set out to investigate the relationship between individuals that play a musical instrument and the roles of passions, goals, deliberate practice, and subjective well-being on their performance. It was discovered that Obsessive passion was positively correlated with performance-avoidance goals. Harmonious passion was found to be associated with high levels of life satisfaction and goal-mastery, which was positively associated with deliberate practice of their activity of interest. It is because of these positive elements that also indicate higher levels of performance (see Figure 2).

Consequences of Passion - well-being[edit | edit source]

A big part of passion, as mentioned before are the motivators behind an individuals[grammar?] actions, which is briefly uncovered in the DMP. For instance, Obsessive passion requires performing an behaviour for the purpose of pleasing others (motivator - wanting positive judgments from other people), best described as "fitting in" type of behaviour. These motivators stem from the contingencies between the activity of passion and the feelings of social acceptance or self-esteem (Mageau, Carpentier, & Vallerand, 2011). These negative-type of motivators act as the enhancers for the negative affects[grammar?] in obsessive passion.

  • Eg. To bring back the guitarist example, a guitarist who experiences obsessive passion will practice or play at events with the soul purpose of being liked or wanted by other people.

Harmonious passion uses motivators such as desire for self-improvement, positive emotions, their deep interest in obtaining more information about how to perform their activity better. There are little or no contingencies attached to the activity (Vallerand, 2012). This is seen as autonomous and internalisation which originates from the intrinsic motivation.

  • Eg. A guitarist will practice and develop new skills at their own pace for their own enjoyment and development.

As previously seen, harmonious passion leads one to set adaptive goals related to the development and mastery of their skills, while obsessive passion leads one to set adaptive as well as maladaptive goals (Vallerand et al., 2007, 2008). When an individual is intrinsically motivated, people tend to show more initiative within their behaviour of interest, show more creativity, show greater task persistence, and pursue task with intentionality. Additionally, striving to extend ones[grammar?] capabilities by continuously learning and processing more information, can all lead to higher levels of well-being[factual?] (Reeve, 2018).

How to optimise well-being for the sake of passion - individually[edit | edit source]

Maintaining psychological well-being does not refer to the absence of ill-being (Gable & Haidt, 2005) but rather reduces the risk of higher levels of ill-being (Vallerand, 2012). There is always the risk of increasing ill-being, which is why keeping in tune with ones[grammar?] self and making sure our psychological well-being is in check is crucial. In may be difficult to have sets of [vague] practices if an individual has no motivation to do so. Authors (Burton, Lydon, D'Alessandro, & Koestner, 2006) have suggested that individuals who consider themselves as having higher intrinsic self-regulation, predicted psychological well-being.

Fava and Tomba (2009) focused on the importance of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy to enhance well-being. As well-being is the measure of a humans[grammar?] wellness, it is important to have set practices to increase levels of well-being, one being:

  • Mindfulness techniques (Fave & Tomba, 2009)
Figure 4. Finding time to check in with yourself is important for your well-being

Studies have suggested that mindfulness-based interventions reduce stress (Goodman, & Schorling, 2012) consequently improving well-being. Other research tested whether certain types of mindfulness techniques helped improve well-being more than another. It was found that psychological well-being was higher as the frequency of mindfulness techniques arose (Schoormans, & Nyklíček, 2011;Fava & Tomba, 2009). Therefore, it is the practice and frequency of these techniques which leads to increases in mindfulness, which in turn leads to symptom reduction and improved well-being.

The DMP suggests some level of self-identity within passion, which can be found through their area of interest, re-instating[spelling?] the fact that it does and can lead to higher levels of well-being (if positive). Once individuals achieve this form of well-being, it is suggested that it can enhance their psychological functioning (Kan, Karasawa, & Kitayama, 2009). It has been argued that people who experience positive emotions while performing their activity of interest (as seen in harmonious passion) are able to have a broader scope in life and can constructively improve on prior experiences, resulting in more satisfying and rewarding life experiences (Kan, Karasawa, & Kitayama, 2009). Well-being and happiness in this form may lead to optimal functioning and flourishing in life and in their passions. People who experience boosts of self-esteem when engaging in an activity can be seen as people who are doing well in life (Reeve, J. 2018). Self-esteem can be a barometer of well-being = when life is going well, self-esteem rises, and when life is going poorly, self-esteem falls.

Case study

Sophia is an energetic teenager who learnt how to play the trumpet when she was five years of age for a music class at her school. The following year, she realised how much she missed playing the trumpet and consequently borrowed a trumpet from the music department during her lunch breaks and began to teach herself to play more songs. Sophia found that playing the trumpet brought her immense amounts of joy, and she became increasingly good at it. When she reached high school, she still played the trumpet, but was continuously being asked by staff and other students if she could play at each school assembly and special event, on top of her extra curriculum trumpet class. Sophia began to experience a loss of interest in playing trumpet and began to tell people she had no time to herself or to self-reflect. Her emotions while playing the trumpet were negative and never looked forward to playing at the events - her self-esteem was decreasing. She missed her alone time where she could revitalize and reflect on her passion, and playing trumpet for fun.

Sophia's passion changed from the beginning and end of the case. Can you identify which types (from the DMP) of passion she experienced?

Optimising passion and well-being within a team[edit | edit source]

  • Is passion contagious?
  • Can this increase overall well-being in teams?

Coming together as a team or group or community involves unique sets of individuals with unique sets of motivations, personalities, and passion. It was made clear, that improving self-identity and through mindfulness techniques, improves one's well-being, in turn improving their performance in activity of passion. Merging individual's uniqueness together creates a team-level construct (Cardon, Post, & Forster, 2017). It is this that poses the questions regarding whether someones[grammar?] passion can influence another persons[grammar?] passion - is it contagious? Does having a team full of passion increase the overall well-being in a team, as it does in one individual? In this area of discussion we will look at:

  • Research on entrepreneurs
  • Central identity in a firm
  • Impact of positive emotions - mimicry and intelligence
Nuvola apps kopete.png
Entrepreneurship Study - Expert vs Novice

In 2015, Thorgren and Wincent conducted a study looking at the relationship between Habitual and Novice entrepreneurship, against Harmonious and Obsessive passion. The distinction between the types of entrepreneurship are as follows:

  • Habitual - seen as an "expert" type of entrepreneur. These people have successfully owned many businesses. Within this there are two types: serial and portfolio. A serial entrepreneur runs many businesses in sequence, whereas a portfolio entrepreneur runs multiple businesses at the same time.
  • Novice - known as first time entrepreneurs. People with no prior business-founding experience.

In this study, companies were selected from a Swedish database who were sent surveys regarding entrepreneurship within their companies. From this site, they received 704 surveys. The survey created was short (to increase response-rate), which measured Harmonious and Obsessive passion. A sample item from the survey for harmonious passion is ‘Running a business is in harmony with the other activities in my life’, while a sample for obsessive passion was ‘I have a tough time controlling my need to engage in running a business’.

Results found a particular relationship between passion and habitual entrepreneurship. It was suggested that entrepreneurs interestingly obtained more Obsessive-like passion than Harmonious. These results are due to the fact that habitual entrepreneurs have individual pressures attached to their entrepreneurship activities due to their success and longevity of their businesses. This longevity and success creates high mental stakes where entrepreneurs feel they need to sustain that particular self-identity that is congruent with their success. When measuring 'portfolio entrepreneurship' both obsessive and harmonious passion were evident. Although being considered a portfolio entrepreneur sounds very intense, these results suggested that harmonious passion is evident as pressures from their activity of interest is balanced, which as mentioned earlier in this page, gives the individual more control over their activities.

Other studies have found that novice entrepreneurs are so indulged in the novelty and newness of their business that they lose capacity to evaluate and analyse ideas as they come about (Baron, 2007). In saying this, it is their optimism and self-identity within their activities that enhance the success of their business. Training in entrepreneurship provides a kick-start in passion but in order boost their passion, people must be self-efficacious in their entrepreneurial capabilities. If self-efficacy is not evident, they will experience a decline in passion over time. A decline in passion may have detrimental consequences business creation in the long-term (Gielnik, Uy, Funken, & Bischoff, 2017).

Central Identity[edit | edit source]

As mentioned in the DMP, those who are harmoniously passionate towards their activity of interest identify more with that activity. Studies have suggested that for contagion of passion from entrepreneur to employee to occur, employees must experience both positive intense feelings for their activities and a sense of meaningfulness or identity connection to those activities within the entrepreneurial firm (Cardon, 2008).

  • For example: the founder of a firm experiences intense feelings about about being the founder of their business. This then leads to the founder experiencing intense positive feelings and emotions. Consequently, they then experience the role of "founder" as a central part of their self-identity.

Founders who constantly reinvent themselves as leaders have the power to change the atmosphere of their business (Suchy, 1999). If a team of passionate workers came together, their intrinsic motivations would be positive and in turn, executing a successful business.

Emotional Mimicry[edit | edit source]

Figure 5. Mimicry in a team for the continuity of positivity enhances well-being

In order for a team to be united in their actions and goals, emotional mimicry must occur. Why should employers display positive emotions for their employees? According to Cardon (2008), it is sharing positive emotions with your team that increases goal-setting, being more committed to goals once they are set, and continued striving to attain relevant goals based on a desire to maintain positive affective states.

Emotional mimicry is a technique used involving mimicking other peoples[grammar?] body language and movements, and facial expressions. This behaviour, when done while being in the presence of people for a long time, in turn become automatic and subconscious (Cardon, 2008) which can be interpreted as "monkey see, monkey do" (Refer to figure 5).

  • Eg. A passionate entrepreneur (founder of a business) displayed positive emotions, positive body language and expressions, there is a high chance the employees may become emotionally positive about the business as well.

It is over time that employees will internalise these emotions (Cardon, 2008), where they then identify themselves with that emotion and passion. According to Cardon (2008), these positive mimicry effects occur in the presence of familiar individuals (eg. co-workers), whether that be at work or in general.

Emotional Intelligence[edit | edit source]

Emotional intelligence is said to be a measure of the extent to which our affective responses are rationally based (Elder, 1997). Entrepreneurs who are successful in understanding their own emotions, and can deliberately influence the emotions of others, have an advantage in choosing the quality and atmosphere of the community - dependent on the display of emotions, whether positive or negative (Cardon, 2008). Emotional intelligence and regulation are both teachable assets (as studied by Goleman) that are incorporated in leadership seminars (Cardon, 2008), suggesting the importance of obtaining emotional intelligence in passion. Spending time to reflect and practice emotional intelligence is crucial as an entrepreneur, as it sets the tone for everyone involved in the business. And as it has been discovered, this enhances the internalisation of passion, and therefore well-being.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Much research has been conducted in the search to find a relationship between passion and well-being. Evidently, it has been discovered that there is indeed a relationship[vague]. This chapter specifically set out to answers three focus questions:

  1. The definitions of both passion and well-being
  2. How does passion impact well-being?
  3. Can passion and well-being help bring value to a team?

The definition of well-being was seen to be the measure of human psychological wellness, while the definition of passion was best described through the Dualistic Model of Passion. Here we learnt that Harmonious passion is seen to be very positive, free, and had little contingencies to activity of interest. Obsessive passion has negative contingencies attached to the activity, as they continue to perform their activity of interest for external reasons - having little control over the internalisation of the activity. A case study surrounding a teenage girl named Sophia was presented, which demonstrated elements of both harmonious and obsessive passion.

When it came to the consequences of passion, this is where we discover the power that passion has on well-being. Different motivators and emotions were found behind the two types of passion, using the hypothetical passions of a guitarist as an example. It became evident that motivation and emotional assets that people possess, all help in taking those steps to optimal well-being. Understanding motivation and emotion offers a reliable pathway to gain valued outcomes, such as greater effort, improved performance, a sense of purpose, personal growth, and enhanced well-being.

It was made clear that optimising well-being was essential for passion in an individual to continue. Maintaining psychological well-being does not refer to the absence of ill-being, but rather reduces the risk of higher levels of ill-being. There is always the risk of increasing ill-being, which is why keeping in tune with ones[grammar?] self and making sure our psychological well-being is in check is crucial. Studies found that maintaining a frequent routine of mindfulness interventions assisted in self-identity and well-being. Internalisation of identity is important for the continuity of passion, hence the importance of keeping high levels of wellness.

A study by Thorgren and Wincent (2015) on entrepreneurship then revealed a particular relationship between obsessive passion and habitual entrepreneurship. Habitual entrepreneurs have individual pressures attached to their entrepreneurship activities due to their success and longevity of their businesses. This longevity and success creates high mental stakes where entrepreneurs feel they need to sustain that particular self-identity that is congruent with their success. This study assisted in understanding passion within a business team, although mainly focusing on the entrepreneur, we were able to gain information on group passion. It was identified that both emotional intelligence and emotional mimicry are two factors that influence the overall behaviour of a team. If the entrepreneur is capable of maintaining a positive atmosphere within the business, this determines not only success, but overall psychological well-being. Therefore, passion is indeed contagious.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Baron, R. A. (2007). Behavioral and cognitive factors in entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurs as the active element in new venture creation. Strategic entrepreneurship journal, 1(1‐2), 167-182. DOI: 10.1002/sej.12

Bonneville-Roussy, A., Lavigne, G. L., & Vallerand, R. J. (2011). When passion leads to excellence: The case of musicians. Psychology of Music, 39(1), 123-138. DOI: 10.1177/0305735609352441

Burton, K. D., Lydon, J. E., D'Alessandro, D. U., & Koestner, R. (2006). The differential effects of intrinsic and identified motivation on well-being and performance: prospective, experimental, and implicit approaches to self-determination theory. Journal of personality and social psychology, 91(4), 750. DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.91.4.750

Cardon, M. (2008). Is passion contagious? The transference of entrepreneurial passion to employees. Human Resource Management Review, 18(2), 77-86.

Cardon, M. S., Post, C., & Forster, W. R. (2017). Team entrepreneurial passion: Its emergence and influence in new venture teams. Academy of Management Review, 42(2), 283-305. DOI: 10.5465/amr.2014.0356

Carpentier, J., Mageau, G. A., & Vallerand, R. J. (2012). Ruminations and Flow: Why Do People with a More Harmonious Passion Experience Higher Well-Being? Journal of Happiness Studies, 13, 501-518.

Elder, L. (1997). Critical thinking: The key to emotional intelligence. Journal of developmental education, 21(1), 40. retrieved from:

Fava, G. A., & Tomba, E. (2009). Increasing psychological well-being and resilience by psychotherapeutic methods. Journal of personality, 77, 1903-1934.

Gable, S. L., & Haidt, J. (2005). What (and why) is positive psychology?. Review of general psychology, 9(2), 103-110. DOI: 10.1037/1089-2680.9.2.103

Gielnik, M. M., Uy, M. A., Funken, R., & Bischoff, K. M. (2017). Boosting and sustaining passion: A long-term perspective on the effects of entrepreneurship training. Journal of Business Venturing, 32(3), 334-353.

Goodman, M. J., & Schorling, J. B. (2012). A mindfulness course decreases burnout and improves well-being among healthcare providers. The International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, 43(2), 119-128.

Kan, C., Karasawa, M., & Kitayama, S. (2009). Minimalist in style: Self, identity, and well-being in Japan. Self and Identity, 8(2-3), 300-317.

Mageau, G. A., Carpentier, J., & Vallerand, R. J. (2011). The role of self‐esteem contingencies in the distinction between obsessive and harmonious passion. European Journal of Social Psychology, 41(6), 720-729. DOI: 10.1002/ejsp.798

Murnieks, C., Mosakowski, E., & Cardon, M. (2014). Pathways of Passion: Identity Centrality, Passion, and Behavior Among Entrepreneurs. Journal of Management, 40(6), 1583 - 1606. DOI: 10.1177/0149206311433855

Parker, S. C. (2014). Who become serial and portfolio entrepreneurs?. Small Business Economics, 43(4), 887-898. DOI: 10.1007/s11187-014-9576-2

Reeve, J. (2018). Understanding motivation and emotion [7th edition]. Retrieved from:!/4/2/2/2/6@0:0

Russell, J. A., & Barrett, L. F. (1999). Core affect, prototypical emotional episodes, and other things called emotion: Dissecting the elephant. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76(5), 805-819.

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-Determination Theory and the Facilitation of Intrinsic Motivation, Social Development, and Well-Being.

Ryff, C. D. (1989). Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological well-being. Journal of personality and social psychology, 57(6), 1069. retrieved from:

Schoormans, D., & Nyklíček, I. (2011). Mindfulness and psychologic well-being: are they related to type of meditation technique practiced?. The journal of alternative and complementary medicine, 17(7), 629-634.

Suchy, S. (1999). Emotional intelligence, passion and museum leadership. Museum Management and Curatorship, 18(1), 57-71. DOI: 10.1080/09647779900601801

Ucbasaran, D., Westhead, P., & Wright, M. (2008). Habitual Entrepreneurs. retrieved from:

Vallerand, R. J. (2012). The role of passion in sustainable psychological well-being. Psychology of well-Being: Theory, research and practice, 2(1), 1. retrieved from:

External links[edit | edit source]