Social Control of Health Behaviors in Marriage

Published in: Journal of Applied Social Psychology, v. 31, no. 3, 2001, p. 467-485

by Joan S. Tucker, Sherry L. Anders

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Married couples (N= 69) reported on their use of social control strategies in attempting to modify each other's health behaviors, as well as their affective and behavioral responses to experiencing health-related social control. Experiencing more negative social control was associated with the tendency to engage in potentially health-compromising behaviors, whereas experiencing positive social control was associated with attempts to engage in the desired behavior. Most associations between experiencing social control and the target's behavioral responses could be accounted for, at least partially, by the target's affective responses to the social control attempts. These results suggest that current conceptualizations of the health-relevance of social control are in need of revision. Implications of these results for social control measurement and theory are discussed.

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