Emotional Resilience Blog from The Fear Course

The latest research, realisations and thinking in the world of emotional resilience, anxiety and fear reduction from around the world.

Does it matter if your friends are online or face-to-face? How to be happy.

Does it matter if your friends are online or face-to-face? How to be happy.

There are a lot of assumptions about the value of online friends versus face-to-face friends (in the flesh as it were) and the impact of these on our general level of happiness and well-being, what is known as Subjective Well-Being or SWB by researchers. Usually it is assumed that face-to-face contact is superior to online contact, but is it true?

A student researcher, Lena Holmberg at the Örebro University in Sweden looked at this very question and the answer may surprise you.

In her thesis, published yesterday, Holmberg examined the levels of social connectedness of 293 young adults aged between 18 and 48 and their levels of happiness. Social connectedness refers to three things:

  1. the desire people have to create and maintain relationships
  2. the social bonds you have with others, and
  3. the feeling of belongingness that results from these bonds

What she found was that there is no difference in terms of the amount of happiness that online or offline friends brought to the people in the study. She did however find that often the most happy people had what they would term as more genuine online friends than the others.

It would appear from this study that the the more genuine friends you have have happier you will be. It would also appear that it is easier to maintain relationships, build deeper social bonds and get a greater feeling of belonging through online social networking.

If anyone wants to connect with me on Linked-in my profile is here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/centrei

 

References

Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117(3), 497-529. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.117.3.497

Grieve, R., Indian, M., Witteveen, K., Tolan, G., & Marrington, J. (2013). Face-to-face or Facebook: Can social connectedness be derived online? Computers In Human Behavior,29(3), 604-609. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2012.11.017

Holmberg, L. (2014) Seeking Social Connectedness Online and Offline: Does Happiness Require Real Contact?. Thesis. Örebro University. Available at http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:736737/FULLTEXT01.pdf.

 

 

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Fear of rejection and abandonment linked to ill health - at a cellular level.

Fear of rejection and abandonment linked to ill health - at a cellular level.

There is a legion of evidence now showing that people who are able to build and maintain close, supportive relationships tend to have less illness and live longer than people who either cannot maintain close supportive relationships or who have unsupportive or conflict-ridden relationships.

A long line of research into this phenomenon and theories of human attachment have shown that patterns laid down in childhood tend to permeate later adult life. Largely it has been found that children who have supportive and responsive parents tend to develop a sense of emotional security that not only lasts for the individual's entire life but also predicts whether or not they are likely to form secure, close and supportive relationships themselves.

Likewise people who grow up in a less secure and unsupportive environment tend to suffer from a range of attachment problems, like a fear of rejection, abandonment, tend to trust less, commit less and often find themselves either unable or unwilling to form close relationships with others, or they collude or find themselves in unsupportive and/or conflict ridden relationships later in life. Now obviously there is a range here from people with mild attachment, rejection and commitment problems to people with chronic issues. It has been found that people with high attachment anxiety have a tendency to worry about rejection and abandonment, use self-defeating or 'hyperactivating' coping strategies, and tend to focus on negative events and hold on the stress far more than people without attachment anxieties or in supportive relationships.

More recent research findings have found a host of health issues associated with relationship and attachment issues. These range from the physical issues such as cold sores, a range of stress related illnesses and even cancer through to stress, heightened levels of anxiety and depressive problems and include lower levels of ability to regulate their own emotions, which only exacerbates the issue.

A study just published by researchers from the University of Texas, Anderson Cancer Center, The Ohio State University College of Medicine and the United States National Cancer Institute has found one of the reasons for higher mortality and illness rates with people in unsupportive or conflict ridden relationships.

The researchers looked at the effectiveness of individuals' immune systems to see whether there was a correlation with levels of attachment anxiety. What they discovered was a clear relationship between the level of attachment anxiety of an individual and the effectiveness of their immune system. What they found was that the higher the levels of attachment anxiety an individual had the less effective that individual's immune system was.

Now whilst many people keep the same patterns of anxiety and fear of rejection and abandonment throughout their lives, it is very possible to change these patterns and change the nature of not just the relationships they have or attract but also improve their general health and, it would appear, repair their immune systems at the same time.

 

 

Reference

Fagundes, C.P. etal (2014) Attachment Anxiety is Related to Epstein-Barr Virus Latency. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity (2014), doi: http:// dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2014.04.002

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The Key to a Happy Marriage lies ... with the wife.

The Key to a Happy Marriage lies ... with the wife.

One of the factors which helps us have successful interpersonal and social relationships is the ability to regulate our own emotions. For example if someone we like does something we don't like quite often we will just gloss over the incident. The same applies, but in a slightly different way, if the boss does something we don't like, we might mutter about it but we 'bite our tongue' and get on with it. If however we have reached the end of our tether we might just let it all go and have an angry outburst. There are some obvious career limiting aspects about this last option.


In a study just published in the journal Emotion, researchers from Stanford University found that the secret to martial satisfaction lay in the ability of the couple to be able to recover effectively and quickly from conflict or "hot button" incidents. The quicker and more fully the couple are able to recover from such incidents, and not hold on to them, the greater the levels of satisfaction the couple tend feel about the relationship.

However the research goes further.

They discovered that the key to a satisfying relationship lies with the wife. If the wife is able to up-regulate positive emotions and down-regulate negative emotions (see this article for an explanation of up and down regulation) then there is a much higher chance of the relationship being happier. The researchers found that wives who calmed down quickly also tended to be able to employ constructive communication strategies. Such strategies include behaviours like clearly expressing her feelings and suggesting solutions and compromises to the problem at hand. This contrasts with destructive communication strategies, such as criticizing, blaming and holding on to hurt. Constructive communication is more likely to result in conflict resolution, thereby positively impacting marital satisfaction.

Why exactly it is the wife that holds the key to the emotional health of the relationship is open to speculation.

The point for me is that if both members of the marriage work together to actively deal with conflicts, as opposed to blaming, criticising or just avoiding the issue, both are likely to have a happier and more satisfying relationship.

It would appear, for whatever reason, a calm wife equals a calm marriage which in turn is more likely to equal a satisfying marriage. 

 

Reference

Bloch, L., Haase, C. M., & Levenson, R. W. (2014) Emotion regulation predicts marital satisfaction: More than a wives' tale. Emotion, Vol 14(1), Feb 2014, 130-144. doi: 10.1037/a0034272

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