Interpersonal predictors of stress generation: Is there a super factor?

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Abstract

Hammen's (1991, Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 100, 555-561) seminal paper on stress generation highlighted the reciprocal relationship between stress and depression. Not only does stress predict depression, but women with a diagnosis of depression also experienced subsequent increased levels of stress. In the ensuing years, depression researchers have moved beyond clinical predictors and examined whether depression vulnerability factors also contribute to stress generation. This interest has led to a growing focus on interpersonal vulnerability factors that contribute to stress generation. To date, the research examining interpersonal predictors of stress generation has tended to examine vulnerability factors singly and thus potential overlap and unique predictions among vulnerability factors have not been determined. This study examines interpersonal vulnerability factors from various schools of thought (dependency, attachment, and unmitigated communion) as predictors of interpersonal stress generation. Three hundred and sixty-four young adults completed baseline measures of interpersonal vulnerabilities and provided weekly reports of depressive symptoms and stressful life events. Multilevel models were estimated to examine their unique predictions of interpersonal stress generation. Despite converging theories, there does not appear to be a single super factor. Of the interpersonal vulnerability factors tested, anxious attachment emerged as a consistent predictor of interpersonal stress generation both when examined singly and when in combination with related variables.

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