The physical and psychological health benefits of positive emotional writing: Investigating the moderating role of Type D (distressed) personality

Smith, Michael, Thompson, Alexandra, Hall, Lynsey, Allen, Sarah and Wetherell, Mark (2018) The physical and psychological health benefits of positive emotional writing: Investigating the moderating role of Type D (distressed) personality. British Journal of Health Psychology, 23 (4). pp. 857-871. ISSN 1359-107X

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/bjhp.12320

Abstract

Objectives
Type D personality is associated with psychological and physical ill‐health. However, there has been limited investigation of the role of Type D personality in interventions designed to enhance well‐being. This study investigated associations between Type D personality and the efficacy of positive emotional writing for reducing stress, anxiety, and physical symptoms.

Design
A between‐subjects longitudinal design was employed.

Method
Participants (N = 71, Mage = 28.2, SDage = 12.4) completed self‐report measures of Type D personality, physical symptoms, perceived stress, and trait anxiety, before completing either (1) positive emotional writing or (2) a non‐emotive control writing task, for 20 min per day over three consecutive days. State anxiety was measured immediately before and after each writing session, and self‐report questionnaires were again administered 4 weeks post‐writing.

Results
Participants in the positive emotional writing condition showed significantly greater reductions in (1) state anxiety and (2) both trait anxiety and perceived stress over the 4‐week follow‐up period, compared to the control group. While these effects were not moderated by Type D personality, a decrease in trait anxiety was particularly evident in participants who reported both high levels of social inhibition and low negative affectivity. Linguistic analysis of the writing diaries showed that Type D personality was positively associated with swear word use, but not any other linguistic categories.

Conclusion
These findings support the efficacy of positive emotional writing for alleviating stress and anxiety, but not perceived physical symptoms. Swearing may be a coping strategy employed by high Type D individuals.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Type D personality, positive emotional writing, stress, anxiety, physical symptoms
Subjects: C800 Psychology
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Psychology
Depositing User: Paul Burns
Date Deposited: 05 Jun 2018 10:41
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2020 17:30
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/34477

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