Positive affect and psychobiological processes

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2010 Sep;35(1):69-75. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2010.01.006. Epub 2010 Jan 25.


Positive affect has been associated with favourable health outcomes, and it is likely that several biological processes mediate the effects of positive mood on physical health. There is converging evidence that positive affect activates the neuroendocrine, autonomic and immune systems in distinct and functionally meaningful ways. Cortisol, both total output and the awakening response, has consistently been shown to be lower among individuals with higher levels of positive affect. The beneficial effects of positive mood on cardiovascular function, including heart rate and blood pressure, and the immune system have also been described. The influence of positive affect on these psychobiological processes is independent of negative affect, suggesting that positive affect may have characteristic biological correlates. The duration and conceptualisation of positive affect may be important considerations in understanding how different biological systems are activated in association with positive affect. The association of positive affect and psychobiological processes has been established, and these biological correlates may be partly responsible for the protective effects of positive affect on health outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Affect / physiology*
  • Animals
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Fibrinogen / metabolism
  • Health Status
  • Health*
  • Hemodynamics / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Hydrocortisone / metabolism
  • Immune System / physiology
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology


  • Cytokines
  • Fibrinogen
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Hydrocortisone