Feeling Good, Feeling Well: Identity, Emotion, and Health

Document Type

Contribution to Books

Publication Date



Over the past decade, health psychologists have been finding empirical evidence that negative emotions and unexpressed emotions have negative effects on physiology and health (Kubzansky & Kawachi, 2000; Mayne, 1999; Baum & Posluszny, 1999). Correspondingly, other studies have found that the interpersonal expression of negative emotion about stressful or traumatic events produces health improvements (Pennebaker & Beall, 1986; Smyth et al., 1994). These findings are bolstered by results in the social support literature regarding psychological and emotional distress (Tyler & Hoyt, 2000; Lechner, 1993; Whelan, 1993; Thoits, 1995). However, to date, no explanation has been developed to explain why expressing emotion to others produces such positive health outcomes. Drawing on Identity Theory (Stryker, 1980; Stryker and Statham, 1986), Affect Control Theory (Heise, 1979; 1999), and sociological theories of emotion management (Francis, 1997; Thoits, 1996; Hochschild, 1983), this paper attempts to address this issues. In this chapter, I will develop a theoretical explanation of social interaction to suggest the utility of understanding the role of identity and affect in health.

Original Citation

Linda E. Francis. (2003). Feeling Good, Feeling Well - Identity, Emotion, and Health in Advances in identity theory and research, ed. by P.J. Burke. New York : Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers. p. 123-134.