Interdependence, Mental Working Models, and Stress Buffering in Couples: Toward Theoretical Specificity
AuthorBourassa, Kyle J.
AdvisorSbarra, David A.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
EmbargoRelease after 07/24/2020
AbstractClose relationships play a key role in affecting wellbeing across the lifespan. Romantic relationships in particular are an essential social context that impacts physical and mental health. Couples operate interdependently, impacting (and being impacted by) their partner’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Although the importance of romantic relationships is well established, less research examines the mechanisms that might explain precisely why and how close relationships exert their salubrious effects on health. This dissertation includes three empirical papers that examine (a) what individual characteristics in one person might impact partners’ wellbeing and whether these effects might continue even when partners are no longer physically present, and (b) the possible mechanisms that might explain how partners might impact each other. The first study showed that spouses’ physical health and cognition predict their partners’ wellbeing, and that there is a high degree of interdependence in couples’ quality of life. The second study then provided evidence that interdependence within couples’ quality of life is maintained, even when one partner passes away. Finally, the third study showed that drawing on the mental image of a romantic partner reduced cardiovascular reactivity to a stressful task in a manner similar to having a partner physically present, suggesting that mental working models may explains interdependence within couples they are not physically interacting. This series of papers provides evidence for how partners affect each other’s mental and physical wellbeing over time, and suggest one mechanism that might account for interdependence within couples beyond physical presence.
Degree ProgramGraduate College