Relationships and Health: The Critical Role of Affective Science

David A. Sbarra, James A. Coan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


High-quality social relationships predict a range of positive health outcomes, but no broadly accepted theory can explain the mechanisms of action in this area. The central argument of this article is that affective science can provide keys for integrating the diverse array of theoretical models concerning relationships and health. From nine prominent theories, we cull four components of relational affect that link social resources to health-related outcomes. This component model holds promise for integrating research from the different theoretical perspectives and for generating new, mechanistic questions about the connection between relationships and health. The article closes by outlining three empirical study ideas that illustrate ways in which the different components can be studied together in the context of mechanism-focused research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-54
Number of pages15
JournalEmotion Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • affect
  • emotion
  • health
  • relationship dynamics
  • relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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