Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 27–34 | Cite as

Of Babies and Bathwater: A Reply to Coyne and Tennen’s Views on Positive Psychology and Health

  • Lisa G. AspinwallEmail author
  • Richard G. Tedeschi
Original Article



We disagree with several conclusions reached by Coyne and Tennen, as well as their interpretation of specific findings.


First, we dispute that researchers have advanced the claim that positive thinking can cure disease. Second, we question their exclusive focus on cancer-related mortality, when strong cumulative evidence suggests that optimism is related to positive health outcomes for other major diseases, and that psychosocial interventions may improve other important cancer outcomes, such as reduced pain and increased quality of life. Third, we disagree sharply with their assessment of the literature on posttraumatic growth and the implications of the research they cite.


It is premature to abandon efforts to understand and promote positive phenomena among people with various life-threatening illnesses. Instead, well-validated measures of positive phenomena should become routinely incorporated into a broader array of health psychology studies to provide a rigorous test of their role in human health and adaptation to disease.


Posttraumatic growth Life-threatening illnesses Positive thinking Cancer care Optimism 


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Copyright information

© The Society of Behavioral Medicine 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of North Carolina at CharlotteCharlotteUSA

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