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Perspect Psychol Sci. 2009 Jul;4(4):375-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-6924.2009.01141.x.

Can We Improve Our Physical Health by Altering Our Social Networks?

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Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University.


Persons with more types of social relationships live longer and have less cognitive decline with aging, greater resistance to infectious disease, and better prognoses when facing chronic life-threatening illnesses. We have known about the importance of social integration (engaging in diverse types of relationships) for health and longevity for 30 years. Yet, we still do not know why having a more diverse social network would have a positive influence on our health, and we have yet to design effective interventions that influence key components of the network and in turn physical health. Better understanding of the role of social integration in health will require research on how integrated social networks influence health relevant behaviors, regulate emotions and biological responses, and contribute to our expectations and worldviews.

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