Affectionate communication and health: A meta-analysis

Colin Hesse, Kory Floyd, Stephen A. Rains, Alan C. Mikkelson, Perry M. Pauley, Nathan T. Woo, Benjamin E. Custer, Kaylin L. Duncan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


A robust literature documents the health benefits of affectionate communication. The present study offers a meta-analysis of this literature to estimate general effects of affectionate communication on several areas of health, including cardiovascular, stress hormonal, stress reactivity, and mental health. We also examined potential moderators, including the type of affectionate communication and sex, while predicting that the benefits of expressed affection outweigh the benefits of received affection. We found a weighted mean effect of r =.23 for the relationship between affectionate communication and health, with differences based on type of health outcome but none for type of affection or sex. The effect of expressed affection exceeded the effect of received affection. The paper discusses the implications of these results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-218
Number of pages25
JournalCommunication Monographs
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021


  • Affection
  • affection exchange theory
  • affectionate communication
  • health
  • meta-analysis
  • wellness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics


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