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Pers Soc Psychol Rev. 1998;2(3):173-83.

A theory of unmitigated communion.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University.


Research has established that women suffer more often than men from depression. Sex role socialization has been offered as one explanation for this sex difference, but traditional measures of female gender-related traits are not related to depressive symptoms. We argue that thus far research has failed to distinguish the traditional measure of female gender-related traits, communion, from another set of gender-related traits, unmitigated communion. Unmitigated communion is a focus on and involvement with others to the exclusion of the self. Unmitigated communion, but not communion, is related to psychological distress, including depressive symptoms, and accounts for sex differences in distress. We examine the relation of unmitigated communion to communion as well as other personality constructs and then describe the cognitive and behavioral features of unmitigated communion. We note the implications of unmitigated communion for physical and psychological well-being and speculate on possible origins.

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