Impact of perceived versus actual similarity in coping with stress on relationship functioning

  • J. Eggermann
  • M. Vollmann
  • C. Salewski

Abstract

Background: Studies on moderator effects of dyadic coping with daily hassles on relationship quality and health have yielded inconsistent findings. As shown for empathy, the perception of one’s partner’s efforts might be more important than the actual efforts. Therefore, the present study aims at examining potential moderating effects of perceived similarity versus actual similarity of dyadic coping on the relation between stress and relationship quality. Methods: 147 couples completed paper-and-pencil questionnaires, including the dyadic coping inventory (DCI), a partnership questionnaire (PFB-K) and the multidimensional stress questionnaire for couples (MDS-P). Based on the DCI two discrepancy scores (for perceived similarity: equity index EI; for actual similarity: reciprocity index RI) were calculated and applied as moderators of the relation between stress and relationship quality. Moderator hypotheses were tested with the PROCESS tool. Findings: EI of positive and negative dyadic coping moderates the influence of stress on relationship quality in men (β=-.12, p=.01 and β=-.18, p=.004, respectively), but not in women (β=-.16, p=.15 and β=-.05, p=.47). RI of positive and negative dyadic coping moderates the influence of stress on relationship quality neither in men (β=-.03, p=.70 and β=-.05, p=.45, respectively) nor in women (β=.02, p=.77 and β=-.004, p=.95). Discussion: The negative impact of stress on relationship functioning is buffered by perceived, but not actual similarity of dyadic coping. This moderating effect occurs only in men, pointing to important gender differences. Strengthening the visibility of one’s own coping efforts may help the partner to perceive them and can thus improve relationship functioning and health.
Published
2017-12-31
Section
Oral presentations