Emotional expression and emotional recognition in breast cancer survivors: A controlled comparison

Kristi D. Graves, John E. Schmidt, Julie Bollmer, Michele Fejfar, Shelby Langer, Lee X. Blonder, Michael A. Andrykowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The role of emotional expression (EE) in the onset and progression of cancer remains equivocal. The purpose of this study was to compare breast cancer patients (n = 25) and matched healthy controls (n = 25) on self-report and behavioral measures of EE and emotional recognition. Based upon Pennebaker's paradigm, participants completed a verbal positive or negative EE behavioral task. Transcripts of participants' responses were analyzed using the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count and were coded for emotional valence and intensity by trained raters blind to experimental condition. Breast cancer patients and healthy controls did not differ on self-report, dispositional measures of EE nor on a behavioral measure of emotional recognition. During the behavioral EE task, patients used significantly less inhibition words than controls and were rated as expressing more intense emotion. Results provide some support for the view that cancer diagnosis and treatment can alter emotionally expressive behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)579-595
Number of pages17
JournalPsychology and Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast cancer
  • Controlled comparison
  • Emotional expression
  • Emotional recognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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