What Are the Health Effects of Disclosure?

Authored by: Joshua M. Smyth , James W. Pennebaker , Danielle Arigo

Handbook of Health Psychology

Print publication date:  December  2011
Online publication date:  April  2012

Print ISBN: 9780805864618
eBook ISBN: 9780203804100
Adobe ISBN: 9781136638299

10.4324/9780203804100.ch8

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Abstract

Humans are social beings; we rely on others for safety and support, particularly in times of high stress or crisis. Sharing one’s experiences is central to creating social bonds but also allows individuals to soothe the negative emotions arising from stressful life events. As a result, individuals have forged connections in various ways throughout history. Although face-to-face contact is the oldest mode of social expression, technological advances have allowed people to communicate over increasingly greater distances. Shouting, drum beating, and signal fires were early ways to convey information. With the advent of written language, it became possible to share our experiences with others through such written means as letters, notes, or even books. In the last 150 years, we have adapted electronic technologies to allow us to communicate over great distances by telegraph, telephone, and radio, culminating in the current array of Internet interactions. Through blogging, social networking sites, and tweets we can now share our current “status” (behavioral, emotional, or otherwise) with the entire world nearly instantaneously. People appear to want others to know what they are experiencing, including their locations, their actions, and—perhaps most important—their emotions.

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