Emotion, Social Relationships, and Health

By Carol D. Ryff; Burton H. Singer | Go to book overview

3
Relationship Experiences and
Emotional Well-Being
Harry T. Reis

Few would argue with the proposition that social involvement is related in an intrinsic and profound way to happiness. Summarizing a sweeping review of the literature, Argyle (1987) concluded that “social relationships are a major source of happiness, relief from distress, and health” (p. 31). Shortly thereafter, Myers (1992) called the importance of social relations to human happiness a “deep truth.” Most accounts of human motivation and development accord relational striving a similarly central role. Attachment theory, for example, regards the “capacity to make intimate emotional bonds with other individuals …as a principal feature of effective personality functioning and mental health” (Bowlby, 1988 p. 121). Indeed, it is difficult, if not impossible, to find theories that do not assign relationships a fundamental role in human development and adaptation. Even the emerging field of evolutionary psychology makes the “need to belong” (Baumeister & Leary, 1995)—that is, the pervasive desire to form and maintain enduring relationships with others—a central factor in the evolutionary design of mechanisms for perception, cognition, and action (Barkow, Cosmides, & Tooby, 1992; Kenrick & Trost, 1997).

In this light, it seems sensible that a symposium focused on emotion should be directly interested in the complex interplay of social relations, relationship processes, and emotional experience. Nevertheless, it would be generous to call the field's understanding of the mechanisms by which interpersonal relations and emotion influence each other rudimentary. Ekman and Davidson highlighted this gap in summarizing the views of a diverse set of emotion theorists, each of whom had been asked to comment on the function of emotion: “While interpersonal functions have generally been given short shrift in comparison to intrapersonal functions …[a]ll the contributors believe that emotions are brought into play most often by the actions of others, and, once aroused, emotions influence the course of interpersonal transactions” (1994, p. 139). In other words, although relationships

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Emotion, Social Relationships, and Health
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Contributors vii
  • Emotion, Social Relationships, and Health *
  • 1 - Integrating Emotion into the Study of Social Relationships and Health 3
  • References *
  • 2 - Meta-Emotion, Children's Emotional Intelligence, and Buffering Children from Marital Conflict 23
  • References 39
  • Commentary *
  • Note *
  • References *
  • 3 - Relationship Experiences and Emotional Well-Being 57
  • Notes *
  • References 83
  • Commentary *
  • References *
  • 4 - Relationships Among Social Support, Emotional Expression, and Survival 97
  • References *
  • Commentary *
  • References *
  • 5 - Mapping Emotion with Significant Others onto Health 133
  • Note *
  • References *
  • Commentary *
  • References 187
  • 6 - Social Relationships and Health 189
  • Note *
  • References *
  • Commentary *
  • References *
  • 7 - Social Relationships and Susceptibility to the Common Cold 221
  • Note *
  • References *
  • Commentary *
  • Note *
  • References 242
  • 8 - Social Context and Other Psychological Influences on the Development of Immunity 243
  • References *
  • Commentary 262
  • References *
  • Author Index 273
  • Subject Index 283
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