Supplemental Funding: Effects of Affectionate Touch Between Spouses on Cardiovascular Stress Responses

Project: Research project

Project Details


Social connection is beneficial to health, and research suggests that happily married individuals are healthier and live longer than the unmarried. The parent project is exploring the mechanisms of potential health-related beneficial effects of physical affection and positive social interactions between spouses (N=200 couples) on responses to laboratory stressors. The current supplement proposes to enhance the parent project by adding 14 days of prospective daily data collection prior to the lab session. We have 3 specific aims: 1) Investigate to what extent and how daily physical affection, positive social interactions, or both contribute to daily self-reported stressors, stress responses, emotional outcomes, and somatic complaints among married couples; 2) determine whether physical affection, positive social interactions, positive and negative events, and/or perceived stress on the 14 days prior to the experimental session significantly moderate participants responses to the laboratory stressors; and 3) determine whether proposed key moderators of laboratory stress reactivity are also effective moderators of the relations between physical affection or social interaction and daily stress reactivity outside the lab, while enhancing the measurement of these moderators by assessing them on daily basis. The central hypotheses are: 1) More frequent daily physical affection and daily positive social interactions will predict fewer self-reported stressful events and lower reactivity to naturally occurring stressors, as indexed by self-reported stress, negative emotion, and somatic complaints; 2) more frequent daily physical affection and positive social interaction between spouses will predict lower reactivity to the laboratory stressors (as measured in the parent grant); and 3) lower daily stress reactivity will be a) found in Latino couples, particularly among those who are less acculturated to mainstream American norms; b) associated with higher marital satisfaction and higher typical levels of physical affection and positive social interaction between spouses; and c) associated with positive attitudes and experiences regarding physical contact, and with lower levels of avoidant attachment style.
Effective start/end date7/1/096/30/12


  • HHS: National Institutes of Health (NIH): $115,141.00


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