The role of discrete emotions in health outcomes: A critical review

Nathan S. Consedine*, Judith Tedlie Moskowitz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

126 Scopus citations


Global aspects of emotion have been central to psychosocial theories of health and health behavior for several decades. A growing body of research has documented key roles for several broad affective constructs - notably anxiety, depression, and anger/hostility - in areas ranging from basic physiological processes, health behaviors, and symptom reporting, to screening and detection behaviors and decision making. Despite this growth, however, the emotions-health literature remains scattered. Mechanisms are poorly understood and several key emotions - embarrassment, disgust, guilt and hope - have scarcely been examined. In presenting the advantages of a discrete emotions perspective, the current report reviews and critiques data describing the relations between discrete emotions and health. It presents a developmental-functionalist framework within which to more systematically consider the links between emotions and health. It is suggested that discrete emotions perspectives provide guidance for understanding the physiological, motivational, and cognitive pathways linking emotions and health and thus their impact on health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-75
Number of pages17
JournalApplied and Preventive Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2007


  • Adherence
  • Cancer screening
  • Decision making
  • Discrete emotions
  • Emotions
  • Health
  • Health behavior
  • Negative affect
  • Positive affect
  • Symptom reporting
  • Symptom sensitivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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