Mark A. Whisman's research while affiliated with University of Colorado Boulder and other places

Publications (157)

Article
Individuals from different Spanish-speaking countries are often combined into a single Latino group. However, this group is diverse, with immigrants and naturalized citizens coming from multiple countries. The present study was conducted to (a) examine potential differences in the annual prevalence of extramarital sex as a function of cultural grou...
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Sexual minority individuals experience depression at a disproportionately higher rate than their heterosexual peers. One predictor of depression is low romantic relationship satisfaction, and research on different-sex couples demonstrates that one's own and one's partner's levels of relationship satisfaction are negatively associated with one's own...
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Objective: Prior research has found a positive association between the quality or adjustment of an individual's intimate relationship, such as marriage, and their physical health. However, it is possible that this association may be due, at least in part, to confounding variables (i.e., variables that are causally associated both with relationship...
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Objective: Inflammation is one biological pathway through which marital dissolution and marital discord may increase risk for chronic disease. The present study was conducted to investigate the cross-sectional association between marital dissolution, marital discord, and C-reactive protein (CRP), an indicator of inflammation, in a probability samp...
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Studies utilizing probability samples have yielded cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between relationship dissolution and psychopathology, including depressive, anxiety, and substance use symptoms and disorders. The present review summarizes theory relevant to the association of relationship dissolution and psychopathology, discusses th...
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This brief review paper discusses marital dissolution and health with a focus on two specific themes. First, we introduce and discuss the search for plausible causal pathways that link the end of marriage to distal health outcomes. Second, we suggest that the socioeconomic (SES) disruptions that follow divorce represent a plausible causal pathway a...
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This article provides a critical review of existing research on intimate (marriage or marriage-like) relationship distress and risk for depression. Using the meta-framework of research triangulation, we seek to synthesize research evidence across several different methodologies and study designs and to draw the most reliable conclusion regarding a...
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Objectives The central aims of the present study were to evaluate bivariate and multivariate associations between components of self-compassion and depressive symptoms, and to investigate the degree to which self-compassion and its components buffer the association between life stress and depressive symptoms. Methods In a sample of female undergra...
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Objectives To examine the associations between pleasant or reinforcing activities (as they relate to the behavioral theory of depression) and depressive symptoms across cultures. Methods We tested for differences in the strength of association between pleasant events and depressive symptoms in probability samples of adults from the United States (...
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Research with probability samples of civilians has found that marital distress is associated with incidence of several psychiatric disorders. However, there is little longitudinal research on marital distress and incidence of psychiatric disorders in military personnel. This study examined the prospective association between marital distress and in...
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Objective: Exposure to traumatic events has been associated with psychiatric symptoms and prevalence of psychiatric disorders in adolescents. This study was conducted to examine, in a U.S. probability sample of adolescents, the association between lifetime exposure to traumatic events and current (i.e., 30-day) severity of serious emotional disturb...
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The objectives of this study were to investigate actor and partner effects of the association between marital discord and depressive symptoms in a sample of 4,779 couples from 11 European countries that were divided into three groups (i.e., Northern, Central, Southern Europe), and evaluate the potential gender and cross-cultural invariance of this...
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Although distress in intimate relationships such as marriage is positively associated with psychiatric symptoms and disorders and suicidal ideation in probability samples of the civilian population in the United States, relatively little is known regarding these associations in probability samples of active-duty military personnel. The present stud...
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Background: According to the Response Styles Theory, rumination maintains and exacerbates depression. This study was conducted to examine the bidirectional longitudinal associations between rumination and depressive symptoms in a probability sample of Australian adults, evaluate the degree to which the strength of these longitudinal associations w...
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Although there is a well-established positive association between romantic relationship discord and depressive symptoms, there have been few studies assessing this association with sexual minority individuals, who are at increased risk for depression and whose relationships may be subjected to unique challenges (and strengths) given their sexual mi...
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Panel data from married adults (N = 1,853) in the General Social Survey, a probability sample of the adult household population of the United States, were used to evaluate (a) the longitudinal association between extramarital sex and marital dissolution 2 years later, (b) whether probability of marital dissolution differed as a function of the type...
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Avoidance has long been viewed as an etiological mechanism of anxiety disorders. Of more recent focus within this literature is the distinction between avoidance that is trait-based (experiential avoidance) versus contextual (safety behaviors). Whereas both experiential avoidance and safety behaviors have been studied within anxiety research, no kn...
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Objective: The present study examined the association between marital satisfaction and all-cause mortality in a large, representative sample of American adults. Gender was evaluated as a potential moderator of this association. Method: Ratings of marital satisfaction from married adults <90 years of age (N = 19,246) were extracted from the 1978...
Article
Although women demonstrate higher levels of rumination than men, it is unknown whether instruments used to measure rumination have the same psychometric properties for women and men. To examine this question, we evaluated measurement invariance of the brooding and reflection subscales from the Ruminative Responses Scale (RRS) by gender, using data...
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Recent theoretical advances have emphasized the commonality between rumination and worry, often referred to as repetitive negative thinking. Although not studied extensively, repetitive negative thinking may not only account for a substantial overlap between depression and anxiety symptoms but also encapsulate other constructs including one’s tende...
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Background Prior research has found a reliable and robust association between poor dyadic (e.g., marital) adjustment and depression and anxiety. However, it is possible that this association may be due, at least in part, to confounding variables (i.e., variables that are causally associated both with marital adjustment and psychopathology and could...
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This longitudinal study was conducted to evaluate actor and partner effects of marital discord on changes in symptoms of depression and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) in a large population sample of Irish adults (N = 1,445 couples), adjusting for the potential confounds of quality of other social relationships and other psychopathology symptoms...
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Being grateful has been associated with many positive outcomes, including greater happiness, positive affect, optimism, and self-esteem. There is limited research, however, on the associations between gratitude and different domains of life satisfaction across cultures. The current study examined the associations between gratitude and three domains...
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Using the most recent nine waves of data from the General Social Survey, which consists of in-person interviews of independent probability samples of the adult household population of the United States, the purposes of this study were to (a) provide descriptive information on adults' attitudes toward extramarital sex, lifetime and annual prevalence...
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A growing body of research supports an important role for genetic factors on intimate, romantic relationships. In this article, we review research that has examined the interplay between genetic and environmental influences on romantic relationships and the associations between relationship outcomes and important individual differences related to r...
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Studies suggest that individuals with schizophrenia have smaller social networks and less satisfying relationships. However, much is still unknown about the typical quantity and quality of social relationships in young adults during the ultra high-risk (UHR) period. Investigating these relationships holds significant importance for improving unders...
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Depression and alcohol use disorder (AUD) commonly co-occur, and this comorbidity is associated with greater impairment and higher likelihood of relapse compared to either disorder alone. Identifying shared vulnerability across depression and AUD may aid in developing more parsimonious treatment approaches. Low levels of positive reinforcement for...
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Objectives: To examine the association between depressive symptoms and salivary telomere length in a probability sample of middle-aged and older adults, and to evaluate age and sex as potential moderators of this association and test whether this association was incremental to potential confounds. Methods: Participants were 3,609 individuals fro...
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The current study investigated whether trait anxiety was systematically related to task-set shifting performance, using a task-switching paradigm in which 1 task was more attentionally demanding than the other. Specifically, taking advantage of a well-established phenomenon known as asymmetric switch costs, we tested the hypothesis that the associa...
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This study examined the genetic and environmental influences on rumination and its associations with several forms of psychopathology in a sample of adult twins (N = 744). Rumination was significantly associated with major depressive disorder, depressive symptoms, generalized anxiety disorder, eating pathology, and substance dependence symptoms. Th...
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Rationale: Marital disruption (i.e., marital separation, divorce) is associated with a wide range of poor mental and physical health outcomes, including increased risk for all-cause mortality. One biological intermediary that may help explain the association between marital disruption and poor health is accelerated cellular aging. Objective: Thi...
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Prior research has found that humiliating marital events are associated with depression. Building on this research, the current study investigated the association between one specific humiliating marital event-discovering that one's partner had an affair-and past-year major depressive episode (MDE) in a probability sample of married or cohabiting m...
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This study was conducted to evaluate, in a probability sample of married individuals (N=2,071), the psychometric properties of a measure of positive and negative relationship adjustment, based on perceived frequency of positive and negative partner exchanges or interactions. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses support the presence of two c...
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This study was conducted to examine the association between marital adjustment and psychological distress in a large, probability sample of married adults in Japan (N = 710) from the Midlife Development in Japan study. Results indicate that positive and negative dimensions of marital adjustment were significantly associated with dimensional and cat...
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Measurement invariance of the Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS) was examined in probability samples of adults 50-79 years of age living in the United States, England, and Japan. Confirmatory factor analysis modeling was used to test for multigroup measurement invariance of a single-factor structure of the SWLS. Results support a single-factor str...
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This study was conducted to provide normative data on the Beck Depression Inventory - Second Edition (BDI-II) in college students. Data were obtained from 15,233 college students drawn from 17 universities in the United States, weighted to match the gender and race/ethnicity of enrollment in degree-granting institutions. Descriptive statistics, poi...
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Although marital dissolution is associated with increased risk for poor mental and physical health outcomes, many people report improvements in functioning after divorce. To study the hypothesis that women in lower quality marriages would report the best outcomes upon separation/divorce, we investigated the combined effects of marital quality, gend...
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The current study was designed to examine the association between perceptions of inter-parental conflict (IPC) in childhood and rumination and depressive symptoms in early adulthood. Family functioning variables (IPC and parenting), rumination, and depressive symptoms were assessed in a sample of college students (N = 131). Results suggested that t...
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Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, with an average of 105 suicides committed daily. The association between marital discord and 12-month prevalence of suicidal ideation and suicide attempt was studied in a population-based sample of married adults (N = 1,384). Marital discord was significantly and positively associate...
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Over the past 40 years, a large body of literature has documented intimate partner relationship distress as a primary reason for seeking mental health services as well as an integral factor in the prognosis and treatment of a range of mental and physical health conditions. In recognition of its relevance to clinical care, the description of intimat...
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Prior research has shown that poor relationship quality in marriage and other intimate relationships demonstrates cross-sectional and longitudinal associations with a variety of psychiatric disorders in adults. In comparison, there has been less research on the covariation between relationship quality and psychiatric disorders in adolescents, a dev...
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Although a large literature links relationship discord with depression, most prior studies have evaluated relationship discord as a continuous variable and have examined this association in younger couples. Based on findings suggesting that the latent structure of marital discord is taxonic, this study evaluated whether taxon status was associated...
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Objective: Poor marital quality is associated with many different indicators of poor health, including immunologic and metabolic responses that have relevance for distal disease outcomes such as diabetes. We conducted this study to evaluate whether poor marital quality was associated with the prevalence of diabetes in a population-based sample of...
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Dyadic analyses were conducted to examine actor, partner, and Actor × Partner interaction effects of lifetime history of 4 traumas on marital quality (i.e., perceived frequency of positive and negative partner exchanges) in a population-based sample of married couples (N = 2,161 couples). People with a history of serious physical attack or assault...
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This study examined how the degree of within-person variation (or temporal fluctuation) in relationship quality over time was associated with well-being (psychological distress and life satisfaction). A national sample of 18- to 34-year-old men and women in unmarried, opposite-sex relationships completed six waves of surveys every 4 months (N = 748...
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Although pleasant events figure prominently in behavioral models of depression, little is known regarding characteristics that may predispose people to engage in pleasant events and derive pleasure from these events. The present study was conducted to evaluate genetic and environmental influences on the experience of pleasant events, depressive sym...
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This study was conducted to estimate the magnitude of genetic and environmental influences on the association between three indices of subjective well-being (i.e., life satisfaction, positive affect, negative affect) and positive and negative components of marital adjustment (i.e., spousal support, spousal strain) in a sample of adult married twin...
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This study examined the extent to which rumination and depression share genetic and environmental influences in a community sample of adult twins (N = 663). Twins completed multiple rumination questionnaires, a depressive symptoms questionnaire and a diagnostic interview. Rumination was moderately heritable (h(2) = .37-.41 for the latent variable)...
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People constantly face the need to choose one option from among many, such as when selecting words to express a thought. Selecting between many options can be difficult for anyone, and can feel overwhelming for individuals with elevated anxiety. The current study demonstrates that anxiety is associated with impaired selection across three different...
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Actor and partner effects for the 2-year longitudinal associations between marital adjustment and life satisfaction were evaluated in a population-based sample of middle-aged and older adults (N = 1,385 couples). Results showed that (a) higher marital adjustment at baseline predicted higher life satisfaction at follow-up, (b) higher life satisfacti...
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Starting in adolescence and continuing through adulthood, women are twice as likely as men to experience depression. According to the response styles theory (RST), gender differences in depression result, in part, from women's tendency to ruminate more than men. A meta-analysis was performed to evaluate gender differences in rumination in adults (k...
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This paper provides a selective review of the literature on the association between poor relationship adjustment (i.e., relationship discord) and the prevalence, incidence, and treatment of psychopathology. Relationship discord has been shown to covary with a variety of psychiatric disorders and predict the incidence of mood, anxiety, and substance...
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This multiwave longitudinal study tested two quantitative genetic developmental models to examine genetic and environmental influences on exposure to negative dependent and independent life events. Participants (N = 457 twin pairs) completed measures of life events annually from ages 9 to 16. The same genetic factors influenced exposure to dependen...
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We introduce the special section on "Genetics and Epigenetics in Family Context." It is noted that family researchers are incorporating genetic factors in their research with increasing frequency. The current special section includes contributions from behavioral genetic, molecular genetic, and epigenetic perspectives, reflecting the diversity of m...
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Measurement invariance of the Beck Depression Inventory-Second Edition (BDI-II) across gender, race, and ethnic groups was evaluated in a large sample of college students, using pooled data from 11 universities from diverse geographical regions in the United States (N = 7,369). Confirmatory factor analysis was used to test the fit of several possib...
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Relationship discord is associated with the severity, onset, and course of depression. Consequently, including the partner of depressed individuals in treatment may be expected to be beneficial in the treatment of depression. In this article, we review the existing research on couple-based interventions for depression, including interventions speci...
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Relationship functioning and psychopathology are strongly associated with one another. In this article we provide a selective review of the literature on relationship discord and the presence, incidence and individual‐based treatment of psychiatric disorders. We then present a model for conceptualizing couple‐based interventions with couples in whi...
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The association between stressful life events and depression has been consistently supported in the literature; however, studies of the developmental trajectories of these constructs and the nature of their association over time are limited. We examined trajectories of depressive symptoms and negative dependent life events and the associations betw...
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Relationship problems and depression often influence one another in a bidirectional, recursive fashion. Results from several clinical trials have demonstrated that couple therapy is effective in improving depression and reducing relationship problems. In this article, we describe an approach to working with depression in partnered individuals who a...
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The purpose of this study was to evaluate the association between marital functioning and binge eating disorder (BED). In a population-based survey of 2,084 married women, women with current (i.e., occurring in the past 12 months) BED were compared on three measures of marital functioning (marital satisfaction, negative interaction, and positive in...
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Building on prior research that marital functioning is associated with a variety of health outcomes, we evaluated the association between marital adjustment and a marker of inflammation in a sample of married adults between the ages of 35 and 84 years old (N = 415) from the second wave of the population-based Survey of Midlife Development in the Un...
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Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a constellation of features--central obesity, dyslipidemia, elevated blood pressure, and dysglycemia--that are associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and mortality. This longitudinal study was conducted to evaluate whether marital adjustment, which has been shown to predict a variet...
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Depression is a heterogeneous disorder with lifetime prevalence of "major depressive disorder" estimated to be 16.2%. Although the disorder is common and impairs functioning, it often goes untreated, with less than adequate response even when treated. We review research indicating the likely value of utilizing currently available, well-validated, c...
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To examine the genetic bases of the behavioral inhibition system (BIS) and the behavioral approach system (BAS), we evaluated the association between the BIS, the BAS, and a functional length polymorphism in the promoter of the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTTLPR) in an unscreened sample of undergraduates (N=211); analyses were conducted using a t...
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Relationship functioning and individual mental health and well-being are strongly associated with one another. In this article, we first review the cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between relationship discord and various types of psychopathology, We then review findings suggesting that relationship discord is associated with poorer ou...
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Dysfunctional attitudes may be one phenotype by which genes increase risk for depression. Building on research demonstrating associations between serotonin abnormalities and dysfunctional attitudes, we examined the covariation between dysfunctional attitudes and the serotonin transporter gene-linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR). In a sample of non...
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The associations between relationship adjustment and symptoms of depression and anxiety were evaluated in a sample of pregnant married or cohabiting women (N = 113) who were at risk for perinatal depression because of a prior history of major depression. Women completed self-report measures of relationship adjustment, depressive symptoms, and anxie...
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In this study, we explored whether the degree of temporal instability in relationship satisfaction might add to our understanding of the well-documented association between relationship quality and depression. We hypothesized that greater relationship satisfaction instability would be associated with higher depressive symptoms, controlling for mean...
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This study was designed to evaluate the association between marital distress and mental health service utilization in a population-based sample of men and women (N = 1,601). The association between marital distress and mental health care service utilization was evaluated for overall mental health service utilization and for specific sectors of trea...
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This study evaluated the association between loneliness and the metabolic syndrome, which refers to a clustering of factors that have been shown to increase risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and mortality. A secondary purpose was to evaluate whether age moderated the association between loneliness and the metabolic syndrome. Partic...
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Mechanisms by which poor relationship functioning contributes to poor health are not fully understood. We conducted a study to evaluate the association between marital distress and the metabolic syndrome (MetS), which refers to a clustering of characteristics that have individually been shown to be associated with elevated risk of cardiovascular di...
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Problems in marriage and other close relationships are widespread. For example, the divorce rate in the United States is approximately 50%. Relationship problems are also among the most common reasons for people seeking mental health services. There is good evidence that marriage counseling is effective in treating relationship problems and a varie...
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Couple Discord and DepressionCouples Therapy for DepressionRecommendations for the Use of Couples Therapy to Treat DepressionFuture Directions in Couples Therapy for DepressionReferences
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Given that marriage and other intimate relationships are likely to be among the most important relationships, if not the most important relationship, in a person’s life, it is reasonable to expect that relationship functioning contributes to a person’s mental health and well-being. In this chapter, we first provide an overview of the literature tha...
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Associations between borderline personality disorder (BPD) symptoms and marital distress, perpetration of marital violence, and marital dissolution were evaluated in a population-based sample of married adults. The incremental association between BPD symptom severity and marital outcomes was also examined, controlling for the presence of Axis I dis...
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Based on recent findings suggesting that marital discord is taxonic (i.e., that couples in discordant relationships differ qualitatively, and not just quantitatively, from couples in nondiscordant relationships), this study was designed to develop a brief screening measure for detecting the relationship discord taxon. A national, representative sam...
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Cognitions such as relationship attributions and beliefs,measured by self-report, have been identified as robust correlates of relationship (e.g., marital) satisfaction. This study sought to build on the theory and assessment of cognitions in relationships by evaluating partner schemas,defined in terms of self-ratings and recall of positive and neg...
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Data from both spouses in a population-based sample of middle-aged and older adults (N = 1,869 couples) were used to evaluate the 2-year prospective association between marital discord and depressive symptoms. Nested path analyses indicated that (a) baseline marital discord predicted one's own depressive symptoms at follow-up, (b) baseline depressi...
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Global evaluations of one's relationship and several key components of relationship functioning demonstrate significant cross-sectional associations with depressive symptoms and major depression and predict change in depressive symptoms and the onset, course, and relapse of episodes of major depression. Furthermore, marital functioning is associate...
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Addressing potential weaknesses in an earlier investigation, the authors examined the latent structure of marital discord using 4 product indicators from the Marital Satisfaction Inventory-Revised (Snyder, 1997) in a representative sample of community couples (N = 1,020). Results from 3 taxometric procedures suggested that marital discord is taxoni...
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The associations between DSM-IV personality disorders and probability of marriage, early marriage, and marital disruption were evaluated among people that participated in the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, which is a nationally representative face-to-face survey of 43,093 respondents, 18 years and older. Participan...
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The associations between marital distress and Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.; DSM-IV; American Psychiatric Association, 1994) Axis I psychiatric disorders were evaluated in a United States population-based survey of married individuals in which there was no upper age exclusionary criterion (N = 2,213). Marital distre...
Article
The purposes of this study were (a) to estimate the annual prevalence of, and to identify the predictors of, sexual infidelity in a population-based sample of married women (N = 4,884); and (b) to evaluate whether the prevalence and predictors of infidelity varied as a function of whether the assessment of infidelity was based on a face-to-face int...
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Predictors of 12-month prevalence of sexual infidelity were examined in a population-based sample of married individuals (N = 2,291). Predictor variables were organized in terms of involved-partner (e.g., personality, religiosity), marital (e.g., marital dissatisfaction, partner affair), and extradyadic (e.g., parenting) variables. Annual prevalenc...
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Simple and moderated associations between 12-month prevalence of marital dissolution and 12-month prevalence of mood, anxiety, and substance use disorders were evaluated. Moderators examined were demographic (gender, length of marriage, race/ethnicity) and distal (parental death, parental marital dissolution, parental mental illness) variables. Com...