An Empirical Study of Occupational Stress Transmission in Working Couples
The associations between work demands, supports, and levels of psychological and physical health have been clearly established by research. There is growing evidence that occupational stressors are transmitted to spouses, with a possible subsequent effect on disease risks and life expectancy of both marital partners. The present study investigates the extent and direction of occupational stress transmission and the possible psychological mechanisms in a survey of 60 working couples. It analyzes the relationships between partners' psychological strain levels, investigates the accuracy of couples perceptions of each other's work stressors, and analyzes the complex interrelationships between an individual's work and the mental well-being of their spouse. Results show that work-related discussion is frequent among marital partners and that individuals have accurate perceptions of their partners' jobs. The study found evidence of transmission of stress from men to women, particularly where men have high strain jobs (high in demand and low in support), but no corresponding transmission from women to men. Some tentative explanations and proposals for further research are offered.