Discrimination harms your health—and your partner's

December 7, 2017 by Andy Henion, Michigan State University
Discrimination not only harms the health and well-being of the victim, but the victim's romantic partner as well, indicates new research led by a Michigan State University scholar. Credit: Unsplash

Discrimination not only harms the health and well-being of the victim, but the victim's romantic partner as well, indicates new research led by a Michigan State University scholar.

The work, which analyzed a nationally representative sample of nearly 2,000 couples, is the first study to consider how the experiences of both people in a relationship are associated with their . The findings are published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

"We found that when an individual experiences discrimination, they report worse health and depression. However, that's not the full story - this stress spills over and affects the health of their as well," said William Chopik, an assistant professor of psychology who conducted the study with current and former MSU students.

The researchers studied the survey data of 1,949 couples ranging in age from 50 to 94. Survey participants reported on incidents of discrimination, as well as on their health, depression and relationship strain and closeness.

Chopik said the study found that it didn't matter where the discrimination came from (e.g., because of race, age, gender or other factors). "What matters is that they felt that they were unfairly treated. That's what had the biggest impact on the person's health."

And that discrimination had a spillover affect on the person's spouse or partner. Because people are embedded in relationships, what happens in those relationships affects our health and well-being, Chopik said.

"We found that a lot of the harmful effects of discrimination on health occurs because it's so damaging to our relationships," he said. "When one partner experiences discrimination, they bring that stress home with them and it strains the . So this stress not only negatively affects their own health, but their partner's as well."

Explore further: Disability discrimination affects one in seven Australian adults

Related Stories

Disability discrimination affects one in seven Australian adults

November 29, 2017
One in seven Australian adults with a disability reports experiencing discrimination due to their impairment and this discrimination can affect their health, a new study has found. Rates were higher for those who were younger, ...

Public health researcher examines link between discrimination and drug abuse

September 18, 2013
A study about the correlation between discrimination and drug abuse by Haslyn E. R. Hunte, Ph.D., assistant professor in the West Virginia University School of Public Health Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and ...

Having a happy spouse could be good for your health

September 30, 2016
Having a happy spouse may be related to better health, at least among middle-aged and older adults, according to a new study published by the American Psychological Association.

Repeated experiences of racism most damaging to mental health

July 27, 2016
New research by University of Manchester academics has revealed for the first time how harmful repeated racial discrimination can be on mental and physical health.

Over three-quarters of people with depression report discrimination

October 17, 2012
An international team of researchers, led by Professor Graham Thornicroft at King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry, used detailed questionnaires to ask 1082 people being treated for depression in 35 different countries ...

Recommended for you

Forty percent of people have a fictional first memory, says study

July 17, 2018
Researchers have conducted one of the largest surveys of people's first memories, finding that nearly 40 per cent of people had a first memory which is fictional.

Algorithm identifies patients best suited for antidepressants

July 17, 2018
McLean Hospital researchers have completed a study that sought to determine which individuals with depression are best suited for antidepressant medications. Their findings, published in Psychological Medicine on July 2, ...

Celebrating positives improves classroom behavior and mental health

July 17, 2018
Training teachers to focus their attention on positive conduct and to avoid jumping to correct minor disruption improves child behaviour, concentration and mental health.

Researchers explore how information enters our brains

July 17, 2018
Think you're totally in control of your thoughts? Maybe not as much as you think, according to a new San Francisco State University study that examines how thoughts that lead to actions enter our consciousness.

Early puberty in white adolescent boys increases substance use risk

July 16, 2018
White adolescent boys experiencing early puberty are at higher risk for substance use than later developing boys, a new Purdue University study finds.

How looking at the big picture can lead to better decisions

July 13, 2018
New research suggests how distancing yourself from a decision may help you make the choice that produces the most benefit for you and others affected.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.