Social Relationships and Susceptibility to the Common Cold

Sheldon Cohen

in Emotion, Social Relationships, and Health

Published in print May 2001 | ISBN: 9780195145410
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199848201 | DOI:

Series: Series in Affective Science

Social Relationships and                         Susceptibility to the Common Cold

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It is believed that the quality of social relationships determines a person's resistance to infection — this is the hypothesis of this chapter. On the one hand, healthy interaction with others and strong ties both facilitate a drive to be concerned about oneself, tolerate effective regulation of emotional reactions, and provide back-up during difficult situations. While on the other hand, laboratory experiments and epidemiological research have discovered that stressful circumstances with significant others and unexpected transitory events inhibit the production of cellular components for immunity functions; hence, increasing the risk of acquiring upper respiratory ailments. In addition, low involvement in society or isolation accompanies a high risk of early death, which is comparable to the high mortality rate caused by persistent smoking. Although much of the literature, along with the study in this chapter, agrees on the positive effect of social relationships to susceptibility to the common cold, there are certain factors such as lifestyle and genes that can possibly account for the same outcomes.

Keywords: social relationships; immunity; laboratory experiments; epidemiological studies; upper respiratory ailments; susceptibility

Chapter.  9569 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Psychology

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