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The Influence of Communication on Physiology and Health

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Edited By James M. Honeycutt, Chris R. Sawyer and Shaughan Keaton

There is a significant amount of research that substantiates the connection between social support/relationships and the development, onset, and/or recovery of several physical diseases/illnesses. Research has shown, for example, that an unhappy marriage can increase the likelihood of becoming ill by 35% while stressful communication can lead to an increase in cardiovascular reactivity which in turn increases the risk of coronary heart disease and premature mortality.
This volume provides a comprehensive overview of the influences of communication on physiology and physical health status occurring in a variety of contexts, from families, interpersonal relationships, and public speaking to sport fandom, affection, fear, and the escalation of conflict. It offers a broad and up-to-date review of the relevant literature in this area of study.
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Section 1: Cardiovascular Studies

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Chapter 1

Effects of Positive Family Conflict-Renewal Stories on Heart Rate

James M. Honeycutt, Brandon D. Bannon, and Laura C. Hatcher

Family stories are more than just a series of unrelated and arbitrary historical happenings; they work to shape how individuals see themselves and their environments (Turner & West, 2006; Stone, 1988). Often, celebrated stories establish what are often called family values. Such stories might include how Grandpa skipped college to go fight in the war; how Uncle Stan worked before and after school to help support the family; or how Mom and Dad went through a rough time in their relationship after the death of their son, but decided to work through it and are now as happy as ever. These positive stories give hope and confidence that couples and families can survive or thrive in difficult times. Stories of resilience in coping with chronic illnesses are very common. Stories about cancer resilience solidify family bonding.

Unfortunately, during times of crisis or illness we may forget about positive aspects of family and concentrate on negative aspects that create feelings of being trapped. This cycle of negative conflict has ← 11 | 12 → detrimental effects on couples both relationally and physiologically (Kiecolt-Glaser & Newton, 2001). Indeed, there is evidence that relationships have significant consequences for physiological functioning. For example, results from large epidemiological studies suggest that social isolation constitutes a major risk factor for morbidity and mortality, with effects comparable...

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