Sarah Pressman's research examines the role that positive emotions and other positive factors play in influencing stress and health outcomes. She is especially interested in exactly how these factors “get under the skin” to influence our well-being and protect us against the harmful effects of stress. 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. In addition, Dr. Pressman also does research on the role of these positive psychosocial factors in buffering the detrimental effects of stress. For example, whether happiness is associated with an improved ability to handle stress, both from a psychological and a physiological standpoint. Another focus is 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 (e.g. smiling) as alternative, unobtrusive methods of understanding individual differences.
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