Carol Ryff

Carol Ryff Picture
415 Psychology
(608) 262-5597

Ph.D. 1978, Penn State

Institute on Aging

Research Interest

My research is strongly multidisciplinary and focuses on how various aspects of psychological well-being are contoured by broad social structural influences such as age, gender, socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, and culture as well as how psychological well-being is linked with biological factors (e.g., neuroendocrine regulation, inflammatory processes, cardiovascular risk). The latter work addresses the mechanisms and pathways through which well-being may confer protection against illness and disease. Resilience is an overarching theme in putting these many levels of analysis (social structural, psychosocial, neurobiological) together. I currently direct the MIDUS (Midlife in the U.S.) national study of Americans (, which has become a major forum for integrative, multidisciplinary studies of health and well-being, as well as a parallel study in Japan known as MIDJA (Midlife in Japan).

Representative Publications


Ryff, C.D. (2014). Psychological well-being revisited: Advances in the science and practice of eudaimonia. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 83, 10-28. doi:10.1159/000353263

Schaefer, S.M., Boylan, J.M., van Reekum, C.M., Lapate, R.C., Norris, C.J., Ryff, C.D., & Davidson, R.J. (2013). Purpose in life predicts better emotional recovery from negative stimuli. PLOS One, 8, e80329. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0080329

Heller, A.S., van Reekum, C.M., Schaefer, S.M., Lapate, R.C., Radler, B.T., Ryff, C.D., & Davidson, R.J. (2013). Sustained ventral striatal activity predicts eudaimonic well-being and cortisol output. Psychological Science, 24, 2192-2000. doi:10.1177/0956797613490744

Miyamoto, Y., Boylan, J.M., Coe, C.L., Curhan, K.B., Levine, C.S., Markus, H.R., Park, J., Kitayama, S., Kawakami, N., Karasawa, M., Love, G.D., & Ryff, C.D. (2013). Negative emotions predict elevated interleukin-6 in the United States but not Japan.
Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 34, 79-85. doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2013.07.173

Boylan, J.M., & Ryff, C.D. (2013). Varieties of anger and the inverse link between education and inflammation: Toward an integrated framework. Psychosomatic Medicine, 75, 566-574. doi:10.1097/PSY.0b013e31829683bd

Ryff, C.D., Friedman, E., Fuller-Rowell, T., Love, G., Morozink, J., Radler, B., Tsenkova, V. & Miyamoto, Y. (2012). Varieties of resilience in MIDUS. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 6, 792-806. doi:10.1111/j.1751-9004.2012.00462.x

Javaras, K.N., Schaefer, S.M., van Reekum, C.M., Lapate, R.C., Greischar, L.L., Bachhuber, D.R., Love, G.D., Ryff, C.D., & Davidson, R.J. (2012). Conscientiousness predicts greater recovery from negative emotion. Emotion, 12, 875-881. doi:10.1037/a0028105

Friedman, E.M., & Ryff, C.D. (2012). Living well with medical co-morbidities: A biopsychosocial perspective. Journal of Gerontology, Psychological Sciences, 67, 535-544. doi:10.1093/geronb/gbr152

Tsenkova, V.K., Carr, D., Coe, C.L., & Ryff, C.D. (2012). Synergistic effect of neuroticism and BMI on glucose metabolism in nondiabetic adults. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 81, 327-328. doi:10.1159/000337413

Coe, C.L., Love, G.D., Karasawa, M., Kawakami, N. Kitayama, S., Markus, H.R., Tracy, R.P., & Ryff, C.D. (2011). Population differences in proinflammatory biology: Japanese have healthier profiles than Americans. Brain, Behavior, & Immunity, 25, 494-502. doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2010.11.013

Tsenkova, V., Schoeller, D., Carr, D., & Ryff, C.D. (2011). Perceived weight discrimination
amplifies the link between central adiposity and nondiabetic glycemic control (HbAlc).
Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 41, 243-251. doi:10.1007/s12160-010-9238-9

Morozink, J.A., Friedman, E.M., Coe, C.L., & Ryff, C.D. (2010). Socioeconomic and psychosocial predictors of interleukin-6 in the MIDUS national sample. Health Psychology, 29, 626-635. doi:10.1037/a0021360

Ryff, C. D., & Singer, B. (2008). Know thyself and become what you are: A eudaimonic approach to psychological well-being. Journal of Happiness Studies, 9, 13-39. doi:10.1007/s10902-006-9019-0

Ryff, C.D., Love, G.D., Urry, H.L., Muller, D., Rosenkranz, M.A., Friedman, E., Davidson, R.J., & Singer, B. (2006). Psychological well-being and ill-being: Do they have distinct or mirrored biological correlates? Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 75, 85-95. doi:10.1159/000090892

Friedman, E.M., Hayney, M.S., Love, G.D., Urry, H.L., Rosenkranz, M.A., Davidson, R.J., Singer, B.H., & Ryff, C.D. (2005). Social relationships, sleep quality, and interluekin-6 in aging women. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 102, 18757-18762. doi:10.1159/000090892

Ryff, C.D., Keyes, C.L.M., & Hughes, D.L. (2003). Status inequalities, perceived discrimination, and eudaimonic well-being: Do the challenges of minority life hone purpose and growth? Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 44, 275-291.

Keyes, C.L.M., Shmotkin, D., & Ryff, C.D. (2002). Optimizing well-being: The empirical encounter of two traditions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 1007-1022. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.82.6.1007

Ryff, C. D., Schmutte, P. S., & Lee, Y. H. (1996). How children turn out: Implications for parental self-evaluation. In C. D. Ryff & M. M. Seltzer (Eds.), The parental experience in midlife (pp.383-422). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Ryff, C. D., & Keyes, C. L. M. (1995). The structure of psychological well-being revisited. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 719-727. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.69.4.719

Ryff, C. D. (1989). Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 1069-1081. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.57.6.1069