Combined set of per-group wikis

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Latest edits: Thursday, 14 February 2013, 10:57 AM (GEORGINA HOPWOOD); Thursday, 14 February 2013, 10:56 AM (GEORGINA HOPWOOD); Thursday, 14 February 2013, 10:54 AM (GEORGINA HOPWOOD); full history

Social Not Solo Exercises

"United we stand, divided we fall."


The school of ‘Positive psychology’ is a new and evolving strand of psychology. In its intervention techniques, it incorporates contemporary methods of therapy with more traditional ones and focuses both on solo positivity and the positivity that can come from social interaction. This is perhaps due to cultural shifts in the scope of social activities, from, historically, having to seek out social interaction from which to derive social satisfaction, to now being able to sit, alone, at a computer screen, communicating with hundreds of others.

Traditionally, positivity through social contact has been sought in active forms; making a commitment to another, finding one’s own religious community, or participating in social activities such as sports. Orden and Bradburn (1968) found strong support for a positive relationship between marriage and happiness, and Smith et al. (2003) that religious interaction can be a buffer against suffering from depression. More recently, however, Positive psychology studies such as Seligman (2002) have shown that as viable an improvement in ‘happiness’ can be gained through solo, internet therapy.

Practically, it has been demonstrated that both solo and individual pursuits can have a huge influence on behaviour. Studies as far back as Allport (1954) have demonstrated that a social group can pressure decisions. Yet, defining what counts as social interaction, compared with solo action with others around, and therefore what exactly the effect of others is, is a complex process. Thus, when it comes to clinical therapies, there are many options open to suit the needs of the individual, from solo exercises to therapy in the presence of others, to group interaction therapies.

What exactly the effects are of solo vs social exercises in terms of individual positivity are still hugely debated. One of the focuses has been to examine the satisfaction of those who spend their leisure time alone or with others. For example, one of the huge benefits of exercise has been suggested to be in its social participation (Steptoe and Butler, 1996), but even solo running seems to be mood improving (Salmon, 2001). There seem, therefore to be benefits to be gained from activities of both the individual and social kind.

Overall, social interaction is incredibly important to our well-being and it has been shown time and time again that there are positive benefits for both mental and physical health to be gained from it. The health of premature infants is improved by touch (Dieter et al., 2003; Diego et al., 2008), participation in group sport has been part of human behaviour for thousands of years, and self-help groups have been proven effective in helping people work through problems such as alcoholism and weight problems (Hoffman & Clarke, 1992; Dansinger et al., 2005). Although individual exercises such as internet therapy have been proven effective (Salmon, 2001), group activities such as religious services can also lead to an increased sense of both happiness and social connectedness (Ferris, 2002), and the more a person engages in social activity, the more their life satisfaction increases. Baumeister and Leery (1995) suggested that as humans we feel a need to belong, which is supported by the positive benefits gained by an individual when participating in social exercises.

Key papers evaluating the effects of social positive psychology

Cohen, S., & Hoberman, H. M. (2006). Positive Events and Social Supports as Buffers of Life Change Stress1. Journal of applied social psychology, 13(2), 99-125.
- This is an extremely worthwhile explanation of how social interaction and support can help one to maintain a positive outlook. Particularly focuses on times of stress.

Shinn, M., Lehmann, S., & Wong, N. W. (2010). Social interaction and social support. Journal of Social Issues, 40(4), 55-76.
-This paper tries to look at both the positive and negative implications of social support and interaction. 

Ahern, A.L., Olson, A.D., Aston, L.M., & Jebb, S.A. (2011). Weight Watchers on prescription: An observational study of weight change among adults referred to Weight Watchers by the NHS. BMC Public Health. 11, 434

Allport, G.W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Cambridge, MA: Addison-Wesley

Allport, G.W. (1954). The historical background of modern social psychology. In G. Lindzey (Ed.), Handbook of social psychology (Vol. 1, 3–56). Reading MA: Addison-Wesley

Asch, S.E. (1956). Studies of independence and conformity: A minority of one against a unanimous majority. Psychological Monographs: General and Applied, 70, 1–70

Babyak, M., Blumenthal, J.A., Herman, S., Khatri, P., Doraiswamy, M., Moore, K.,Craighead, W.E., Baldewicz, T.T., & Krishnan, K.R. (2000). Exercise treatment for major depression: maintenance of therapeutic benefit at 10 months. Psychosomatic medicine, 62(5), 633-638

Baumeister, R.F., & Leary, M.R. (1995).The need to belong: Desire forinterpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. PsychologicalBulletin, 117, 497–529

Baumeister, R. F. (1991). Meanings of life. NewYork: Guilford

Bernstein, L., Henderson, B. E., Hanisch, R., Sullivan-Halley, J., & Ross, R. K. (1994). Physical exercise and reduced risk of breast cancer in young women.Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 86(18), 1403-1408

Blanchard, K. (1995). The anthropology of sport: An introduction. Praeger

Boutcher, S. H., Biddle, S. J. H., & Fox, K. R. (2001). Cognitive performance, fitness, and ageing. Physical activity and psychological well-being, 118-129

Camacho, T. C., Roberts, R. E., Lazarus, N. B., Kaplan, G. A., & Cohen, R. D. (1991). Physical activity and depression: evidence from the Alameda County Study. American journal of epidemiology, 134(2), 220-231

Coker, K. H. (1999). Meditation and prostate cancer: integrating a mind/body intervention with traditional therapies. In Seminars in urologic oncology, 17(2), 111-118

Coreil, J., & Behal, R. (1999). Man to Man Prostate Cancer Support Groups. Cancer Practice, 7(3), 122–129

Csikszentmihalyi, M.1990. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Harper and Row, New York

Dansinger, M. L., Gleason, J. A., Griffith, J. L., Selker, H. P., & Schaefer, E. J. (2005). Comparison of the Atkins, Ornish, Weight Watchers, and Zone diets for weight loss and heart disease risk reduction. JAMA: the journal of the American Medical Association, 293(1), 43-53

Diener, E., & Seligman, M. E. (2002). Very happy people. Psychological science, 13(1), 81-84

Dolev-Cohen, M., & Barak, A. (2013). Adolescents’ use of Instant Messaging as a means of emotional relief. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(1), 58-63

Emrick, C. D. (2006). Alcoholics Anonymous: affiliation processes and effectiveness as treatment. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 11(5), 416-423

Farver, J. A. M., Kim, Y. K., & Lee, Y. (1995). Cultural Differences in Korean‐and Anglo‐American Preschoolers' Social Interaction and Play Behaviours. Child Development, 66(4), 1088-1099

Ferris, A. L. (2002). Religion and the Quality of Life. Journal Of Happiness Studies, 3(3), 199-215

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Fossil Reanalysis Pushes Back Origin of Homo sapiens, February 17, 2005, Scientific American

Fox, K. R. (2000). Self-esteem, self-perceptions and exercise. International Journal of Sport Psychology. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 31(2), 228-240

Francis, L.J., Robbins, M. & White, A. (2003) Correlation Between Religion and Happiness: A Replication. Psychological Reports, 92, 51-52

Gill, V. (2010). Oldest evidence of arrows found. In BBC News: Science and Environment. Retrieved January 30, 2013, from

Gross, M. (2010). Alcoholics anonymous: Still sober after 75 years. American Journal of Public Health, 100(12), 2361

Grossman, P., Niemann, L., Schmidt, S., & Walach, H. (2004). Mindfulness-based stress reduction and health benefits-A meta-analysis. Journal of psychosomatic research, 57(1), 35-44

Harrison, T. & Clarke, D. (1992). The Northfield experiments. British Journal of Psychiatry, 160, 698-708

Hatfield, E., & Rapson, R. L. (1993). Love, sex, and intimacy: Their psychology, biology, and history. New York: HarperCollins

Hatfield, E., & Rapson, R. L. (1996). Love and sex: Cross-cultural perspectives. Boston: Allyn and Bacon

Hendrick, S.S., & Hendrick, C. (2000b). Romanticlove. Close relationships: A sourcebook (pp.203–215). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

Heshka, S., Anderson, J.D., Atkinson, R.L., Greenway, F.L., Hill, J.O., Phinney, S.D., Kolotkin, R.L., Miller-Kovach, K., & Pi-Sunyer, F.X. (2003).Weight Loss With Self-help Compared With a Structured Commercial Program. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 289(14), 1792-1798

Hoffmann, N. G., Harrison, P. A., & Belille, C. A. (1983). Alcoholics Anonymous after treatment: Attendance and abstinence. Substance Use & Misuse, 18(3), 311-318.

Holzman, L., & Polk, H. eds. History is the cure: A social therapy reader. Practice Press, 1988

Hussain, D., & Bhushan, B. (2010). Psychology of meditation and health: Present status and future directions. International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy, 10(3), 439-451

Kelly, J. F., Stout, R. L., Magill, M., Tonigan, J. S., & Pagano, M. E. (2011). Spirituality in recovery: a lagged mediational analysis of Alcoholics Anonymous’ principal theoretical mechanism of behavior change. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 35(3), 454-463

Kashner, T. M., Rost, K., Cohen, B., & Anderson, M. (1995). Enhancing the health of somatization disorder patients: Effectiveness of short-term group therapy. Psychosomatics: Journal of Consultation Liason Psychiatry, 36(5), 462-470

Krentzman, A.R. (2012). Review of the application of positive psychology to substance use, addiction and recovery research. Psychology of Addictive Behaviours. Advance online publication

Latane, B., & Darley, J.M. (1968). Group inhibition of bystander intervention in emergencies. Journal of Personality and social Psychology, 10, 215–221

Markus, H. R., & Kitayama, S. (1991). Culture and the self: Implications for cognition, emotion, and motivation. Psychological Review, 98(2), 224

McDermut, W., Miller, I. W., & Brown, R.A. (2001). The Efficacy of Group Psychotherapy for Depression: A Meta‐analysis and Review of the Empirical Research. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 8(1), 98-116

McRoberts, C., Burlingame, G. M., & Hoag, M.J. (1998). Comparative efficacy of individual and group psychotherapy: A meta-analytic perspective. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 2(2), 101

Mehl, M. R., Vazire, S., Holleran, S. E., & Clark, C. S. (2010). Eavesdropping on Happiness Well-Being Is Related to Having Less Small Talk and More Substantive Conversations, Psychological Science, 21(4), 539-541

Moore, S. C., Patel, A. V., Matthews, C. E., de Gonzalez, A. B., Park, Y., Katki, H. A., ... & Lee, I. M. (2012). Leisure Time Physical Activity of Moderate to Vigorous Intensity and Mortality: A Large Pooled Cohort Analysis. PLOS Medicine, 9(11), e1001335

Myers, D.G. (2000). The Funds, Friends, and Faith of Happy People, American Psychologist, 55, 56–67

Myers, D.G. and Diener, E. (1995). Who is Happy? Psychological Science 6, 10–19

Orden, S.R., Bradburn, N.M. (1968). Dimensions of Marriage Happiness. American Journal of Sociology, 73(6), 715-731

Plante, T.G., Coscarelli, L., & Ford, M. (2001). Does exercising with another enhance the stress-reducing benefits of exercise? International Journal of Stress Management, 8(3), 201-213

Rejeski, W.J., Gauvin, L., Hobson, M.L., & Norris, J.L. (1995). Effects of Baseline Response, in-task Feelings, and Duration of Activity on Exercise induced Feeling States in Women. Health Psychology, 14, 350–359

Salmon, P. (2001). Effects of Physical Exercise on Anxiety, Depression, and Sensitivity to Stress: A Unifying Theory. Clinical Exercise Review, 21, 33–61

Scarborough, P., Bhatnagar, P., Wickramasinghe, K.K., Allender, S., Foster, C., & Rayner, M. (2011). The economic burden of ill health due to diet, physical inactivity, smoking, alcohol and obesity in the UK: an update to 2006–07 NHS costs. Journal of public health, 33(4), 527-535

Seligman, Martin. (2002) Authentic happiness: Using the new positive psychology to realize your potential for lasting fulfillment. Free Press

Silveira, E.M., Rodrigues, M.F., Krause, M.S., Vianna, D.R., Almeida, B.S., Rossato, J.S., Oliveira, L.P. Jr, Curi, R., & de Bittencourt, P.I. Jr. (2007). Acute exercise stimulates macrophage function: possible role of NF-kappaB pathways. Cell Biochemistry and Function, 25(1), 63-73

Smith, Timothy B., Michael E. McCullough, and Justin Poll. (2003). Religiousness and depression: evidence for a main effect and the moderating influence of stressful life events. Psychological bulletin, 129(4), 614

Snoep, L. (2008). Religiousness and happiness in three nations: A research note. Journal of Happiness Studies, 9, 207211

Speca, M., Carlson, L. E., Goodey, E., & Angen, M. (2000). A randomized, wait-list controlled clinical trial: the effect of a mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction program on mood and symptoms of stress in cancer outpatients. Psychosomatic medicine, 62(5), 613-622

Steptoe, A. S., and Neville Butler. (1996). Sports participation and emotional wellbeing in adolescents. The Lancet, 347(9018), 1789-1792

Tkach, C., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2006). How do people pursue happiness? Relating personality, happiness-increasing strategies, and well-being. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 183–225

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Tremblay, M. S., Inman, J. W., & Willms, J. D. (2000). The relationship between physical activity, self-esteem, and academic achievement in 12-year-old children. Paediatric exercise science, 12(3), 312-323

Walker, J.C. (2010). Experiencing flow: Is doing it together better than doing it alone? The Journal of Positive Psychology, 5(1), 3-11

Weber, B.A., Robert, B.L., Yarandi, H., Mills, T.L., Chumbler, N.H., Algood, C. (2007). Dyadic support and quality-of-life after radical prostatectomy. Journal of Men’s Health & Gender, 4(2), 156–164

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