Interpersonal Predictors of Stress Generation

Published In: Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, v. 35, no. 5, May 2009, p. 544-556

Posted on RAND.org on May 01, 2009

by Nicole K. Eberhart, Constance L Hammen

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Hammen (1991) provided evidence for a stress generation process in which individuals with a history of depression contributed to the occurrence of stressors, especially interpersonal and conflict events. However, few studies have examined the factors contributing to stress generation. This study examines aspects of individuals' interpersonal style, operationalized as attachment, dependency, and reassurance seeking, as predictors of conflict stress generation within romantic relationships. These effects were examined both prospectively over a 4-week period and cross-sectionally using a 14-day daily diary in a sample of female college students. Overall, there was significant evidence that interpersonal style contributes to the occurrence of interpersonal stressors. Specifically, anxious attachment and reassurance seeking prospectively predicted romantic conflict stress over a 4-week period, and a variety of interpersonal behaviors were associated with romantic conflict stressors on a daily basis. These results are interpreted in relation to previous literature, and limitations and directions for future research are discussed.

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