Affective reactivity, resting heart rate variability, and marital quality: a 10-year longitudinal study of US adults
Ong, Anthony D. and Gardner, Samuel and Urgancı, Betül and Günaydın, Gül and Selçuk, Emre (2020) Affective reactivity, resting heart rate variability, and marital quality: a 10-year longitudinal study of US adults. Journal of Family Psychology, 34 (3). pp. 375-382. ISSN 0893-3200 (Print) 1939-1293 (Online)
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/fam0000591
Increasing evidence suggests that heightened affective reactivity to daily stressors has implications for mental and physical health, yet little is known about the long-term repercussions of day-to-day stress reactivity for marital quality. This study examined associations between affective reactivity and two indicators of marital well-being (marital satisfaction and marital risk) over a 10-year period. An additional aim was to investigate the potential role of resting high-frequency heart rate variability (HF-HRV), an index of cardiac vagal regulation, in moderating the association between affective reactivity and marital quality. These relationships were examined using data from 344 married adults in the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS II and III) study. Respondents completed daily telephone interviews and longitudinal reports of stressors, affect, and marital quality. HF-HRV was measured at rest. Greater affective reactivity to daily stressors predicted lower marital satisfaction and higher marital risk 10 years later. These associations remained after adjustments for potential confounders, including demographics, physical and behavioral factors, and psychological characteristics. In addition, HF-HRV moderated the associations between affective reactivity and marital quality. Results are consistent with a buffering effect, in which high levels of HF-HRV offset the inverse association between affective reactivity and marital quality.
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