The differential effects of acute marital distress on emotional, physiological and immune functions in maritally distressed men and women

Tracy J. Mayne, Ann O'Leary, Barbara McCrady, Richard Contrada, Erich Labouvie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations

Abstract

We examined the impact of acute marital conflict on emotion, cardiovascular arousal, and immune function in men and women. Subjects were 10 heterosexual, distressed couples, who participated in exchange for marital therapy. Each couple participated in a 40 minute conflict induction regarding an area of difficulty in their relationship. During this induction, blood pressure and heart rate were monitored and blood samples were drawn pre- and post-induction for analysis of immune change. Women responded to the experimental induction with significantly greater increases in depression and hostility, and with significantly greater increases in SBP than men. Women also responded to the acute marital distress with slight decreases in lymphocyte proliferative response to PHA, while men displayed an increase in PHA response. The sex by time interaction was significant. Change in PHA was associated with change in hostility and SBP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-288
Number of pages12
JournalPsychology and Health
Volume12
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Keywords

  • Marital distress
  • Psychoneuroimmunology
  • Psychophysiology

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