The broaden‐and‐build theory (, ) 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.