Stresszformator thoughts – The approach

Katalin Lévai | trainer, coach

We developed our emotional coping test based on Richard Davidson’s theory of the emotional life of the brain. As I wrote about in my previous article, the test measures six dimensions. I would like to describe each of them in more detail below.

First, I will look at the dimension that Davidson used to start his research. Let’s look at what APPROACH means!

In everyday life, we say “seeing the world through rose or black glasses” or “the glass is half full or half empty”. We use it to describe someone’s basic attitude to life’s events. Davidson has further refined this formulation: for him, attitude means the length of time someone can maintain positive emotions. For those on the negative pole, any happiness is a fleeting, fleeting moment. For those on the positive pole, however, joy and good feelings last for a long time, “enriching” their day.



His research has also helped him to pinpoint the brain coordinates of the two poles: the negative centre is in the right prefrontal cortex and the positive in the left. These are the areas where emotions, thoughts and actions are channeled together, where everything is decided and decisions are made.

What is surprising is that the basic activity of the two sides, the temperament, seems to be innate. Those with greater activity on the right tend to be more shy, those with greater activity on the left less likely to inhibit behaviour. The latter are “brave”, adapting quickly to new situations, the former are frozen.

This functional difference can be observed in infants as young as a few hours old: when experimenting with tastes, infants’ faces brightened and the left frontal cortex became activated in response to sugary water, while in response to lemon water they frowned, squinted and the right side became more active, but the degree of activity varied greatly between individuals. And this persisted later.

The 10-month-olds whose baseline activity was stronger on the right side froze and cried when the mother moved away, and those on the left side: they were frightened but also curious, and began to explore. However, when they were re-examined at 9-10 years of age, there was no strong correlation between early brain activity and current activity and behaviour.

This is important because it proves that innate patterns can be changed: positive environments, supportive people and developing ourselves can change the way we see the world!



R. Davidson-S. The Emotional Life of the Brain, Academy, 2013