Sarah Pressman is an Associate Professor of Psychology & Social Behavior at the University of California, Irvine.  Her research focuses on the interplay between positive emotions, social relationships, stress, and health, with a focus on the physiological processes that underlie these associations. 

Sarah D. Pressman
Associate Professor
4322 Social and Behavioral Sciences Gateway

Key Research Area

Stress, Positive Emotions, Physiological Pathways (e.g., endocrine, cardiovascular), Health Psychology, Social Relationships

Professional Bio

Generally, my research examines the role that positive emotions and social relationships play in influencing stress and health outcomes. I am especially interested in exactly how these factors “get under the skin” to influence our well-being. Pathways that I have 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. I also do research on the role of these positive psychosocial factors in buffering the detrimental effects of stress. For example, I am interested in whether happiness is associated with an improved ability to handle stress, both from a psychological and a physiological standpoint. I am also very interested in 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 as alternative, unobtrusive methods of understanding individual differences.


Post Doctoral Fellowship in Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine, University of Pittsburgh

MS and PhD in Social, Personality & Health Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University

BSc (honors) in Biopsychology, Mount Allison University

The STEP (STress, Emotion, & Physical health) Laboratory

Looking to join the Pressman lab? We are always eager to find intelligent and hard working students to volunteer (currently we have no open paid lab positions). You can find more information by clicking the laboratory link on the RIGHT side of the page, including information on how to apply.