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[...] emotions—some positive and helpful (I’ve worked hard and I can ace this presentation;...), others negative and less so (He’s purposely ignoring me;...).

I searched online dictionaries and find just the definition below:

less so Contextual comparative. Modifies another adjective (to which the "so" is a direct anaphoric reference), indicating a lesser degree of the quality in question.

So, Does the sentence above means some emotions are negative and less nagative?

https://hbr.org/2013/11/emotional-agility

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[...] emotions—some positive and helpful (I’ve worked hard and I can ace this presentation;...), others negative and less so (He’s purposely ignoring me;...).

  • some emotions are positive and helpful

  • others [other emotions] are negative and less helpful. Alternative: less so.

To avoid repeating the word helpful, the author uses so.

If there is an adjective with less or more, you can replace it the second time with so.

Another example: The cake was really very sweet. The cupcakes were less so.

less so [less sweet]

In this type of pattern the "so" means that way and replaces an adjective that has already been mentioned.

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Less helpful.

emotions—some positive and helpful, others negative and less so.

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