Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

Living Edition
| Editors: Marc Gellman, J. Rick Turner

Happiness and Health

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6439-6_1338-2



Positive emotions (including happiness) arise as the result of pleasurable engagement with the environment and may present themselves in a variety of forms (e.g., enthusiasm, calm, contentment). Traditionally, physical health is defined as the objective absence of disease or illness but can also include perceptions of wellness.


While the concept that happiness is tied to better health is not novel and is widely accepted by the public, the research in this area remains in its infancy. Due to the surge of interest in positive psychology over the last decade, researchers are beginning to unveil the predictive and protective effects of positive emotions on health. There are however many remaining critical research questions. This section will focus on the most robust and striking findings in the literature on positive emotions and physical health, in addition to a brief discussion...


Depression Ecstasy 
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References and Further Readings

  1. Cohen, S., Doyle, W. J., Turner, R. B., Alper, C. M., & Skoner, D. P. (2003). Emotional style and susceptibility to the common cold. Psychosomatic Medicine, 65, 652–657.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Danner, D. D., Snowdon, D. A., & Friesen, W. V. (2001). Positive emotions in early life and longevity: Findings from the nun study. Personality Processes and Individual Differences, 80(5), 804–813.Google Scholar
  3. Diener, E., & Emmons, R. A. (1985). The independence of positive and negative affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 47(5), 1105–1117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Diener, E., & Lucas, R. E. (2000). Subjective emotional well-being. In M. Lewis & J. M. Haviland-Jones (Eds.), Handbook of emotions (pp. 325–334). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  5. Diener, E., Larsen, R. J., Levine, S., & Emmons, R. A. (1985). Intensity and frequency: Dimensions underlying positive and negative affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 48(5), 1253–1265.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Pressman, S. D., & Cohen, S. (2005). Does positive affect influence health? Psychological Bulletin, 131(6), 925–971.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Russell, J. A. (1980). A circumplex model of affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39, 1161–1178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Watson, D., & Clark, L. A. (1999). The PANAS-X: Manual for the positive and negative affect schedule-expanded form. Iowa City: University of Iowa, Department of Psychology. Retrieved from http://www.psychology.uiowa.edu/Faculty/Watson/Watson.html

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology and Social BehaviourUniversity of California, IrvineIrvineUSA