Perceived Partner Responsiveness Predicts Diurnal Cortisol Profiles 10 Years Later

Slatcher R. B. , SELÇUK E., Ong A. D.

PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE, vol.26, no.7, pp.972-982, 2015 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 26 Issue: 7
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Doi Number: 10.1177/0956797615575022
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index, Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.972-982
  • Keywords: perceived partner responsiveness, social relationships, cortisol, health, marriage, MIDUS, open data, open materials, SALIVARY CORTISOL, POSITIVE AFFECT, ASSOCIATION, SUPPORT, STRESS, DISEASE, HEALTH, TRAIT, MODEL, STATE


Several decades of research have demonstrated that marital relationships have a powerful influence on physical health. However, surprisingly little is known about how marriage affects healthboth in terms of psychological processes and biological ones. Over a 10-year period, we investigated the associations between perceived partner responsivenessthe extent to which people feel understood, cared for, and appreciated by their romantic partnersand diurnal cortisol in a large sample of married and cohabitating couples in the United States. Partner responsiveness predicted higher cortisol values at awakening and steeper (i.e., healthier) cortisol slopes at the 10-year follow-up. These associations remained strong after we controlled for demographic factors, depressive symptoms, agreeableness, and other positive and negative relationship factors. Furthermore, declines in negative affect over the 10-year period mediated the prospective association between responsiveness and cortisol slope. These findings suggest that diurnal cortisol may be a key biological pathway through which social relationships affect long-term health.