Sarah Pressman, Ph.D., will present a talk titled “Understanding the Connections Between Positive Emotions and Physical Health” as part of the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences’ on-going speaker series.
Pressman is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and Social Behavior in the School of Social Ecology at the University of California, Irvine.
Pressman’s research examines the role that positive emotions and social relationships play in influencing health outcomes. She is especially interested in exactly how these factors “get under the skin” to influence our well-being. Pathways that she has examined include physiological processes such as stress hormone reactivity, cardiovascular response, immune system change, as well as health behaviors like sleeping, exercise, and other leisure activities. She also does research on the role of these positive psychosocial factors in buffering the detrimental effects of stress. For example, she is interested in whether happiness is associated with an improved ability to handle stress, both from a psychological and a physiological standpoint. She is also very interested in using relationship and emotion markers outside of self-report as predictors of health. For example, computerized word encoding of writing, or positive facial emotion expression as alternative, unobtrusive methods of understanding individual differences.