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J Marriage Fam. 2012 Jun;74(3):572-586.

Racial Differences in Exposure and Reactivity to Daily Family Stressors.

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  • 1Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Kent State University.


Using data from the National Study of Daily Experiences (NSDE), this study examined racial differences in exposure and reactivity to daily stressors involving family members. Respondents included African American and European American adults aged 34 to 84 (N = 1,931) who participated in 8 days of daily interviews where they reported on daily stressors, affect, and physical health symptoms. Results revealed racial similarities in family stressor exposure. Both races were also emotionally reactive to family arguments and family network events (i.e., events that happen to a family member), whereas African Americans were more physically reactive to family arguments. For African Americans, reactivity to family arguments endured; the increased negative affect and physical symptoms associated with family arguments lasted into the next day. Findings provide evidence for racial similarities and differences, suggesting that family relationships are universally stressful, whereas the negative effects of family stressors are more enduring among African Americans.

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