The Influence of Depression on Romantic Jealousy: A Transactional Model Approach
Degree awarded: Ph.D. Psychology. American University
Jealousy can have detrimental effects on romantic relationships (Crowe, 2004) and can lead to issues related to domestic abuse and violence (O'Leary, Slep, & O'Leary, 2007; Guerrero, Trost, Yoshimura, 2005; Guerrero, et al 1995; Wilson & Daly 1993; Daly, Wilson & Weghorst, 1982). Depression has also been shown to have negative effects on romantic relationships (Shannon & Hammen, 2002; Barnett & Gotlib, 1998; Gotlib & Wiffen, 1989); however, little is known about the influence of depression specifically on experiences of jealousy in the context of romantic relationships. In this study, we assess whether (1) individuals higher in depression appraise situations as more threatening and less controllable, (2) report to a greater degree that their coping goal is to maintain relationship rewards, (3) chose less adaptive coping strategies, (4) are more rigid in their coping strategy choices and (5) have greater negative emotional reactions to jealousy-evoking situations than those who have lower levels of depression. One hundred and fifty two college students completed questionnaires on depression, chronic jealousy, social desirability and relationship satisfaction. We devised vignettes of jealousy-evoking situations and compared these to vignettes of general romantic relationship conflict scenarios. Participants rated vignettes on projected appraisals, emotional responses, coping goals, and coping choice. Unique effects for jealousy-evoking situations were found for the relationship between depression and perceived stressfulness of the situations, self-criticism, and jealous emotional responses. Depression was positively associated to sense of personal responsibility and avoidant and passive emotion-focused coping choices for relationship conflict overall. Depression was generally not associated with coping goals or coping flexibility. Limitations and future directions for research are also discussed.
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