Positive Emotions and Immunity

Sarah D. Pressman and Lora L. Black

in The Oxford Handbook of Psychoneuroimmunology

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780195394399
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Positive Emotions and Immunity


In this section, we examine the evidence tying positive emotions to immune function. Studies reviewed here focus on the short-term alterations in immune function that occur as a result of experimentally induced emotions as well as naturally occurring emotional states. We begin by discussing the larger theoretical concerns in this field, such as measurement of positive emotions, independence from related constructs, and the pathways by which positive feelings might lead to alterations in immune outcomes. We follow with a brief review of the literature showing ties between manipulations of positive emotions and immune outcomes, as well as studies tying short term, naturally occurring states to immunity. We conclude that this literature is suggestive in that many studies show immune enhancing benefits of positive emotions. However, a number of studies have methodological concerns making it difficult to determine the true effect sizes and active components of these associations and we, therefore, make a call for further work in this area.

Keywords: positive affect; positive emotion; vigor; calm; happiness; laughter; immunity; immune function; mood induction

Article.  10036 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Health Psychology ; Social Psychology

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