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Do Negative Emotions Mediate the Association between Socioeconomic Status and Health?


Address for correspondence: Karen A. Matthews, Ph.D., Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, 3811 O'Hara St., Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA. 412-624-2041 (voice); 412-624-0967 (fax). e-mail:


Abstract: In this chapter, we examine the possibility that negative emotions contribute to the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and health. A model of the associations among SES, emotion, and health is presented first. We then review the evidence for this model, showing associations of SES with depression, hopelessness, anxiety, and hostile affect and cognition, and of these negative emotions with disease. Notably, most of the data supporting the model provide only indirect evidence that negative emotions serve as a key contributor to the proposed associations. We, therefore, conclude with recommendations for longitudinal research, especially in children, that will more directly and comprehensively examine negative emotions as possible mediators of the SES and health relationship.