Affectionate Writing Can Reduce Cholesterol

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to new research, writing down affectionate thoughts about close friends and
family can reduce your cholesterol levels. Floyd et al. (2007) randomly
assigned participants to one of two groups: one experimental and one control.
The experimental group wrote with affection about one person in their lives for
20 minutes on three occasions over a five-week period. The control group wrote
mundane descriptions of their activities over the week, jobs they had done and
places they had lived.
results from two separate studies demonstrated that after only 25 days, the
experimental group who had written affectionate notes, showed a significant
reduction in cholesterol. These reductions were seen independently from the
effects of general health factors like age, drinking, smoking and so on. Mean
cholesterol levels reduced from 170 mg/dL to 159 mg/dL (figures are from the
second study which was methodologically more secure).
researchers also examined whether linguistic features of the experimental
group’s writing affected cholesterol reduction. They found that those who wrote
directly to someone showed greater reductions in cholesterol than those who
wrote in the third person about someone.
of the strengths of this study was that it specifically examined the benefits
of expressing affection. Other studies have found evidence for the benefits of
expressing affection but have had difficulties separating the expressing from
the receiving. This is because when you express affection towards someone else,
they are likely to reciprocate. Expressing is, therefore, tightly bound up with

an age where human nature is often considered profoundly selfish, here’s a
selfish reason to be nice to people. Of course compared with all the
money-spinning methods of reducing cholesterol levels around nowadays, you’ll
never see this one advertised (except on PsyBlog!) because it’s essentially
free. So, pass it on…

are preliminary results. The research was carried out in a small sample (Study
1, N=34; Study 2, N=30) of healthy US college students all in the normal range
for cholesterol. More research will be required to see if this generalises
across cultures, overall health status and so on. On the other hand, the
possible side-effects of writing affectionate letters are not that worrying,
unless you count paper cuts.
the author

Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in
psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in

has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also
the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and
several ebooks:

Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.