Social Baseline Theory and the Social Regulation of Emotion

Social proximity, peer bonding and soothing behaviors attenuate cardiovascular arousal, facilitate the development of non-anxious temperament, inhibit the release of stress hormones, reduce threat-related neural activation, and promote health and longevity.  Conversely, social subordination, rejection and isolation are powerful sources of stress and compromised health.  

Social Baseline Theory (SBT) proposes that the default mode of human affect regulation is through social proximity and interaction, effects that are likely mediated through subcortical neural circuits such as amygdala, nucleus accumbens and the ventral tegmentum. Because self-regulatory efforts mediated through the prefrontal cortex are metabolically costly, SBT predicts that social emotion regulation strategies drive many manifestations of social proximity and interaction in order to optimize neural resources devoted to self-regulation.