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Altruism and HealthPerspectives from Empirical Research$
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Stephen G. Post

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195182910

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195182910.001.0001

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Integrating Positive Psychology Into Epidemiologic Theory: Reflections on Love, Salutogenesis, and Determinants of Population Health

Integrating Positive Psychology Into Epidemiologic Theory: Reflections on Love, Salutogenesis, and Determinants of Population Health

Chapter:
(p.189) 10 Integrating Positive Psychology Into Epidemiologic Theory: Reflections on Love, Salutogenesis, and Determinants of Population Health
Source:
Altruism and Health
Author(s):

Jeff Levin

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195182910.003.0013

This chapter seeks to integrate the emerging field of positive psychology into epidemiologic theory. It demonstrates that the putative health effects of positive-psychological constructs, exemplified by altruistic and compassionate love, can be understood in terms of concepts implicit in existing theoretical perspectives on the psychosocial determinants of population health. The discussion is in four parts. First, it is shown how the effects of constructs taken from the field of positive psychology can be investigated and understood in an epidemiologic context. This discussion emphasizes key concepts in population health, including risk status, the natural history of disease, and pathogenesis. Second, a summary is provided of Antonovsky's views on salutogenesis and coherence. These are key components of any metatheoretical discussion of a potentially salutary role of positive-psychological characteristics. Third, important conceptual distinctions are made among the determinants of morbidity, disease, and health in order to clarify existing confusion regarding the impact of psychosocial variables. Finally, an overview is provided of how the putative health benefits of love might be assessed from several popular theoretical perspectives that specify how psychosocial constructs affect indicators of population health. This discussion summarizes how epidemiologists conceive of the psychosocial determinants of morbidity, disease, and health.

Keywords:   positive psychology, epidemiologic theory, population health, Antonovsky, love

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