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Sarah Pressman

Professor, Psychological Science

Dr. Pressman's research focuses on the interplay of emotions, social relationships, and health, with a focus on physiological processes.

Areas of Expertise

  • Social Relationships and Health
  • Emotion and Emotion Regulation
  • Stress and Coping
  • Mental Health & Wellness
  • Physiological Measurement


Sarah Pressman's research examines the role that positive emotions and other positive factors play in influencing stress and health outcomes. She is especially interested in exactly how these factors “get under the skin” to influence our well-being and protect us against the harmful effects of stress. Pathways that she has examined include physiological processes such as stress hormone reactivity, cardiovascular response, immune system change, as well as health behaviors like sleeping, exercise, and other leisure activities. In addition, Dr. Pressman also does research on the role of these positive psychosocial factors in buffering the detrimental effects of stress. For example, whether happiness is associated with an improved ability to handle stress, both from a psychological and a physiological standpoint. Another focus is using relationship and emotion markers outside of self-report as predictors of health. For example, computerized word encoding of writing, or positive facial emotion expression (e.g. smiling) as alternative, unobtrusive methods of understanding individual differences.


Watch on YouTube: Surprising Effects of Smiling on Stress - Positive Links Speaker Series ft. Sarah PressmanWatch on YouTube: Why Doctors Should Care About Happiness | Sarah Pressman | TEDxUCIrvineDownload image: Sarah  PressmanDownload image: Sarah  PressmanDownload image: Sarah  Pressman


University of Pittsburgh

Post Doctoral Fellowship, Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine

Carnegie Mellon University

M.S. and Ph.D., Social, Personality & Health Psychology

Mount Allison University

B.Sc., Biopsychology


  • Chair of the 77th American Psychosomatic Society
  • Chair of the 76th American Psychosomatic Society