Negative emotions are reliably associated with poorer health (e.g., Kiecolt-Glaser, McGuire, Robles, & Glaser, 2002), but only recently has research begun to acknowledge the important role of positive emotions for our physical health (Fredrickson, 2003). We examine the link between dispositional positive affect and one potential biological pathway between positive emotions and health-proinflammatory cytokines, specifically levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6). We hypothesized that greater trait positive affect would be associated with lower levels of IL-6 in a healthy sample. We found support for this hypothesis across two studies. We also explored the relationship between discrete positive emotions and IL-6 levels, finding that awe, measured in two different ways, was the strongest predictor of lower levels of proinflammatory cytokines. These effects held when controlling for relevant personality and health variables. This work suggests a potential biological pathway between positive emotions and health through proinflammatory cytokines.
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