Negative emotions are reliably associated with poorer health (e.g., Kiecolt-Glaser, McGuire, Robles, & Glaser, 2002), but only recently has research begun to acknowledge the important role of positive emotions for our physical health (Fredrickson, 2003).
Dr. Jennifer Stellar
and her team examine the link between dispositional positive affect and one potential biological pathway between positive emotions and health—proinflammatory cytokines, specifically levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6). The team hypothesized that greater trait positive affect would be associated with lower levels of IL-6 in a healthy sample. The team found support for this hypothesis across two studies. Also they explored the relationship between discrete positive emotions and IL-6 levels, finding that awe, measured in two different ways, was the strongest predictor of lower levels of proinflammatory cytokines. These effects held when controlling for relevant personality and health variables. This work suggests a potential biological pathway between positive emotions and health through proinflammatory cytokines. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved)
Positive Affect and Markers of Inflammation: Discrete Positive Emotions Predict Lower Levels of Inflammatory Cytokines Jennifer E. Stellar, Neha John-Henderson, Craig L. Anderson, Amie M. Gordon, Galen D. McNeil, and Dacher Keltner Online First Publication, January 19, 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/emo0000033
Stellar, J. E., John-Henderson, N., Anderson, C. L., Gordon, A. M., McNeil, G. D., & Keltner, D. (2015, January 19). Positive Affect and Markers of Inflammation: Discrete Positive Emotions Predict Lower Levels of Inflammatory Cytokines. Emotion. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/emo0000033