LONGITUDINAL ASSOCIATIONS BETWEEN DEPRESSIVE SYMPTOMS AND MARITAL SATISFACTION IN BLACK COUPLES AND MODERATION BY DISCRIMINATION AND RACIAL CENTRALITY

Restricted (Penn State Only)
Author:
Jenkins, August Ida
Graduate Program:
Human Development and Family Studies
Degree:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
May 31, 2018
Committee Members:
  • Steffany Jane Fredman, Thesis Advisor
  • Susan Marie Mchale, Thesis Advisor
Keywords:
  • African American
  • mental health
  • intimate relationships
  • discrimination
  • racial identity
  • dyadic data analysis mental health
  • dyadic data analysis
  • Mental health
Abstract:
Although there are well-established bidirectional associations between depressive symptoms and martial satisfaction among romantic couples, it is unknown whether this bidirectional association exists among Black couples, specifically, and how the nature of this relation might depend on contextual factors. To address these questions, the current study was designed to assess the prospective associations between depressive symptoms and marital satisfaction over a one-year period in a sample of 168 married or cohabitating heterosexual, Black, romantic couples and to explore moderation of these associations by (a) experiences of discrimination and (b) racial centrality within a dyadic context. Depressive symptoms predicted lower marital satisfaction for self and partner one year later, and wives’ satisfaction positively predicted husbands’ satisfaction but not vice versa. Moderation analyses revealed that, for both husbands and wives, one’s own experiences of discrimination moderated the effect of one’s partners’ satisfaction on one’s own depressive symptoms but that there were different patterns for husbands and wives. Specifically, at high levels of husbands’ discrimination, the association between wives’ satisfaction and husbands’ depressive symptoms was negative, and the association was positive at low levels of husbands’ discrimination. In contrast, at high levels of wives’ discrimination, the association between husbands’ satisfaction and wives’ depressive symptoms was positive and was negative at low levels of wives’ discrimination. Wives’ racial centrality also moderated the effect of wives’ depressive symptoms on husbands’ subsequent satisfaction, such that the association between wives’ depressive symptoms and husbands’ satisfaction emerged at high, but not at low, levels of wives’ racial centrality. Findings suggest that practitioners working with African American individuals and couples should attend to the interdependence between spouses’ mental health and relationship satisfaction and consider the broader social context in which Black individuals and couples are situated to improve both individual and relational well-being.