Abstract: Past research has found that solution-focused (SF) coaching questions led to more positive outcomes than problem-focused (PF) coaching questions. Another body of research (Broaden and Build Theory; Fredrickson, B. L. (1998). What good are positive emotions? Review of General Psychology, 2(3), 300–319) posits that positive emotions promote AQ2the discovery of novel ideas and actions including goal attainment and positive change. These theoretical frameworks have influenced coaching practitioner literature, but no research has explored their conjoint effects. We explore these by randomly allocating 512 participants in comparing (1) PF coaching questions with (2) SF coaching questions with (3) positive affect (PA) induction with (4) a SF plus PA condition (SF + PA). The broad findings of this study were that PF questions performed the worst on all measures, and that PA induction and SF coaching questions were equally effective at enhancing positive affect, increasing self-efficacy, enhancing goal approach and developing action steps. These results show, that while positive affect makes a valuable contribution to coaching outcomes, combining PA induction with SF questions produces superior outcomes than PA or SF questions alone in terms of self-efficacy, goal approach and action steps. While this research supports the central tenets of Broaden and Build Theory in terms of coaching outcomes, just making people feel good is not enough for truly effective coaching practice.
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