High-quality social relationships help us live longer, happier and healthier lives — facts that hold true, as far as anyone knows, regardless of geography or culture. Although links between relationships and health have been observed for decades (if not millennia), the mechanisms responsible for them remain speculative. In this talk, Jim Coan will first describe his work on one of these potential mechanisms: social regulation of the brain’s response to perceived threat. Next, he will offer a perspective — derived initially from social regulation results — that integrates the study of social relationships with principles of behavioral ecology and cognitive psychology to propose that the people who make up our social networks can be construed by the brain as bioenergetic resources available to the self. Because of this, proximity to social resources economizes both current and predicted cognitive and bodily effort, a process that can diminish subjective stress, improve health and prolong life.

Jim Coan, PhD

University of Virginia

James Coan, PhD (CoInvestigator) is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia. His work seeks to uncover the neural mechanisms of emotion and social behavior, with an emphasis … MORE