A Look at “Positive Affect and Health”
As Sheldon Cohen and Sarah D. Pressman first note, academic literature on the subject of chronic negative thoughts and affective styles is plentiful, focusing on the increase risk of disease. But in the paper “Positive Affect and Health,” 2007, Cohen and Pressman attempt to combine literature on positive thoughts and affective style with their own research and study into the subject. Predominantly, the authors seek to highlight the correlation between an individual’s global positive outlook (referred to as PA) and his or her subsequent physical health. Examining the controls in other studies and attempting to control their own, the authors produce interesting results. They find a positive correlation between both preventative and moderating effects of positive affect in mild or less severe illnesses. But the authors also mention more cryptic results that lead to questions about perception and the differences between negative, positive, and neutral affective style. These and other limitations are explored, with an ending focus towards theories of positive affective style’s real consequences and suggestions for future research.
Cohen and Pressman offer strong evidence for the positive correlation between PA and resistance to poor health. They clarify that their study of positive affective style denotes a “person’s typical emotional experience, rather than…momentary responses to events.” Most literature they review studies and qualifies autobiographical or reflective responses to their lives, and then generates a statistical review based on the subsequent health later in life. For example, a study of nuns’ reflective writing samples, extracting the number of positive and negative thoughts and words, illustrated the effect of PA in their probability of early death. The authors conduct their own study and detail the method of interviewing 334 adult volunteers, asking them to subjectively judge their quality of life positively...
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