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James Pennebaker

How American psychologist James Pennebaker showed writing about your emotions can improve one's physical and mental health.

A ground-breaking experiment by American social psychologist James Pennebaker, published in 1986, showed that simply writing about one's emotions can significantly improve one's health. His work on expressive writing revolutionised how emotions are viewed within psychology.

Claudia Hammond travelled to the American Society for Personality and Social Psychology annual gathering, in New Orleans, to speak to James Pennebaker who was there to receive a Distinguished Scholar Award and to take up the society's presidency.

She also met others who have worked with him and taken his work on expressive writing forward in various directions. These include Annette Stanton, professor of psychology and psychiatry at UCLA; Laura King, professor of psychology at the University of Missouri, Columbia; Kent Harber, associate professor of psychology at Rutgers University; Sam Gosling, professor of psychology at the University of Texas, Austin; Adriel Boals, associate professor of psychology at the University of North Texas and John Weinman, professor of psychology as applied to medicine at King's College.

(Image: James Pennebaker. Credit: Department of Psychology, University of Texas)

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29 minutes