This work was partially supported by the Madison and Lila Self Graduate Fellowship.
Effects of Writing About Emotions Versus Goals on Psychological and Physical Health Among Third-Year Medical Students
Article first published online: 15 DEC 2005
Journal of Personality
Volume 74, Issue 1, pages 267–286, February 2006
How to Cite
Austenfeld, J. L., Paolo, A. M. and Stanton, A. L. (2006), Effects of Writing About Emotions Versus Goals on Psychological and Physical Health Among Third-Year Medical Students. Journal of Personality, 74: 267–286. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.2005.00375.x
- Issue published online: 15 DEC 2005
- Article first published online: 15 DEC 2005
A randomized, controlled trial compared writing about emotional topics (EMO) to writing about goals as the “best possible self” (BPS; after King, 2001) and evaluated emotional approach coping, i.e., efforts to cope through processing and expressing emotion, as a moderator of writing effects on psychological and physical health in 64 third-year medical students. In participants with higher baseline hostility, the EMO condition was associated with less hostility at 3 months compared to the BPS and control conditions. Emotional processing (EP) and emotional expression (EE) moderated the effect of experimental condition on depressive symptoms at 3 months; high EP/EE participants reported fewer depressive symptoms in the EMO condition, whereas low EP/EE individuals reported fewer depressive symptoms in the BPS condition compared to the EMO and control conditions. A moderating effect of EP on physical health was also identified, such that low EP individuals who wrote about goals (BPS) had fewer health care visits at 3 months compared to low EP participants in the EMO and control conditions.