Great new studies in happiness and positive psychology – Part II

Great new studies in happiness and positive psychology – Part II

The science of happiness and positive psychology is growing at a rapid rate and I’m pleased to bring you summaries of some of the latest and greatest findings…

The quality and quantity of one’s relationships have been reliably linked to morbidity and mortality (that is how sick you get and when you die!). More recently, studies have focused on links between relationships and cardiovascular reactivity as a physiological mechanism via the stress-buffering hypothesis. The results of this study suggest that not all relationships are good for you but that the quality of one’s relationships is an important moderator of cardiovascular reactivity during stress. So increase the number and positivity of your relationships and stay healthier and live longer!

Following on from the aforementioned research, we’ve known for some time now that intense negative emotions are not good for our physical health. Anger, for example, seems to be correlated with increased risk of heart disease. But some interesting new research suggests that anger may have some good consequences…in that it might act as a motivating force, sometimes for good!

A genetic tendency to depression is much less likely to be realized in a culture centered on collectivistic rather than individualistic values, according to a new Northwestern University study. In other words, a genetic vulnerability to depression is much more likely to be realized in a Western culture than an East Asian culture that is more about we than me-me-me. So as noted in another research summary…build those positive relationships and find happiness in and with others.

An examination of emotions reported on 12 million personal blogs along with the results of three experiments reveal that the meaning of happiness is not fixed; instead, it shifts as people age. Whereas younger people are more likely to associate happiness with excitement, older people are more likely to associate happiness with feeling peaceful. This change is driven by increased feelings of connectedness (to others and to the present moment) as one ages.

I hope you’ve found these positive psychology research summaries helpful and interesting and I hope you can find ways to apply the findings in your life for more health and happiness.