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Fair enough? Decreased equity of dyadic coping across the transition to parenthood associated with depression of first-time parents


Meier, Fabienne; Milek, Anne; Rauch-Anderegg, Valentina; Benz-Fragnière, Christelle; Nieuwenboom, Jan Willem; Schmid, Holger; Halford, W Kim; Bodenmann, Guy (2020). Fair enough? Decreased equity of dyadic coping across the transition to parenthood associated with depression of first-time parents. PLoS ONE, 15(2):e0227342.

Abstract

The transition to parenthood (TTP) is a stressful life event for most couples. Therefore, the way both partners jointly cope with stress (i.e., dyadic coping) is important for the prevention of individual adjustment problems (e.g., depression). For dyadic coping to be effective in reducing depressive symptoms, efforts of both partners should be equal. However, many couples experience a decrease of equity in task division within the domestic sphere across the TTP. The current study investigates the equity of a specific skill within the 'relationship sphere', because similarly to a decreased equity in household and childcare, a decreased equity of dyadic coping is likely to be associated with poorer individual adjustment. We collected longitudinal self-report data on dyadic coping and depressive symptoms from 104 mixed-gender first-time parents (n = 208 individuals) from pregnancy until 40 weeks postpartum. We created an equity score for men and women that measured their perceived difference between received and provided dyadic coping. On average, women reported providing more and receiving less dyadic coping than men. While both genders agreed on this distribution, men did perceive a higher equity of dyadic coping than women. Furthermore, the decrease of equity perceived by women across TTP was not visible in men. In line with our assumptions based on the equity theory, perceived equity of dyadic coping was associated with depressive symptoms in a curvilinear manner: Decreases in women's perceived equity in either direction (over- or underbenefit) were associated with more depressive symptoms in women and their male partners. This association was found above and beyond the beneficial effect of dyadic coping itself. This implies that not only how well partners support each other in times of stress, but also how equal both partners' efforts are, is important for their individual adjustment across TTP.

Abstract

The transition to parenthood (TTP) is a stressful life event for most couples. Therefore, the way both partners jointly cope with stress (i.e., dyadic coping) is important for the prevention of individual adjustment problems (e.g., depression). For dyadic coping to be effective in reducing depressive symptoms, efforts of both partners should be equal. However, many couples experience a decrease of equity in task division within the domestic sphere across the TTP. The current study investigates the equity of a specific skill within the 'relationship sphere', because similarly to a decreased equity in household and childcare, a decreased equity of dyadic coping is likely to be associated with poorer individual adjustment. We collected longitudinal self-report data on dyadic coping and depressive symptoms from 104 mixed-gender first-time parents (n = 208 individuals) from pregnancy until 40 weeks postpartum. We created an equity score for men and women that measured their perceived difference between received and provided dyadic coping. On average, women reported providing more and receiving less dyadic coping than men. While both genders agreed on this distribution, men did perceive a higher equity of dyadic coping than women. Furthermore, the decrease of equity perceived by women across TTP was not visible in men. In line with our assumptions based on the equity theory, perceived equity of dyadic coping was associated with depressive symptoms in a curvilinear manner: Decreases in women's perceived equity in either direction (over- or underbenefit) were associated with more depressive symptoms in women and their male partners. This association was found above and beyond the beneficial effect of dyadic coping itself. This implies that not only how well partners support each other in times of stress, but also how equal both partners' efforts are, is important for their individual adjustment across TTP.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
Life Sciences > General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Health Sciences > Multidisciplinary
Language:English
Date:2020
Deposited On:30 Jun 2020 13:14
Last Modified:01 Aug 2020 18:50
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1932-6203
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0227342
PubMed ID:32074100
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID100019_146775
  • : Project TitleStrengthening couples during the transition to parenthood: A randomized controlled study

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