Unraveling the relationship of distress levels within couples: Common stressors, empathic reactions, or crossover via social interaction?

Mina Westman, Amiram D. Vinokur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Using structural equation modeling analyses we examined the correlation in levels of depression symptoms within couples to determine whether the underlying mechanism is due to common stressors, empathic reactions, or crossover via social interaction. The analyses were based on two waves of data collection from a sample of 354 male Vietnam veterans, Era veterans (veterans who served elsewhere during the period of the Vietnam War), and nonveterans and from their wives or committed partners. The results demonstrated that the correlation in depression symptoms within couples is due primarily to common stressors and crossover via negative social interaction. Common stressful life events increase depression in both spouses, and this in turn increases social undermining, which further increases depression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-156
Number of pages20
JournalHuman Relations
Volume51
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1998

Keywords

  • Crossover
  • Job loss
  • Stress
  • Stress transmission
  • Unemployment

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