NYT: “Hostile outlook may affect breathing”: social capital responsible?

“Hostile Outlook May Affect Breathing, Research Shows” (NYT Science Times, 6/19/07)

While the NY Times doesn’t label social capital a potential culprit to explain the relationship between more difficult breathing and hostility, alternative research has highlighted the relationship between issues like charitable giving or trust and pleasure sensors in the brain, and substantiated that there is a link between socializing and the reduction in our stress levels.  Makes one wonder whether in the same way that dreams and sleep play a critical role in cementing in learning and recharging our systems, whether things like socializing, giving and trust might also be a resetting and calming tonic for the system that prevent or reduce issues like breathing problems which might come from an accumulation of these stressors.

NYT article here, excerpts and summary follow:

“Having a hostile attitude may affect your breathing, a new study reports.

“Using a sample of 4,629 healthy adults ages 18 to 30, researchers determined hostility using a 50-item questionnaire and then administered breathing tests to record objective measures of breathing efficiency and lung capacity. The study appears in the May issue of Health Psychology.”

[The study controlled for age, height, socioeconomic status, smoking and asthma.]  For reasons not explained the low lung function was consistently found among hostile black men and women and in hostile white women. They didn’t find a statistically significant lung function decline in hostile white men.

The authors speculated that it could be environmental factors or even that low lung performance triggered hostility.


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