Passing it on: Discrimination has ‘spillover effect’ on partner’s health | sex and relationships | Hindustan Times
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Passing it on: Discrimination has ‘spillover effect’ on partner’s health

The research, which analysed a sample of nearly 2,000 couples, is the first study to consider how the discrimination experiences of both people in a relationship are associated with their health.

sex and relationships Updated: Dec 09, 2017 14:04 IST
The researchers studied the survey data of 1,949 couples ranging in age from 50 to 94.
The researchers studied the survey data of 1,949 couples ranging in age from 50 to 94.(Shutterstock)

Discrimination not only harms the health and well-being of the victim, but their romantic partner as well, a study has found.

The research, which analysed a sample of nearly 2,000 couples, is the first study to consider how the discrimination experiences of both people in a relationship are associated with their health.

“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 partner as well,” said William Chopik, from the Michigan State University in the US.

The researchers studied the survey data of 1,949 couples ranging in age from 50 to 94.

The participants reported on incidents of discrimination, as well as on their health, depression and relationship strain and closeness. The study, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, found that it did not matter where the discrimination came from (eg, 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,” Chopik said.

That discrimination had a spillover effect on the person’s spouse or partner. Since people are embedded in relationships, what happens in those relationships affects our health and well-being, he said.

“When one partner experiences discrimination, they bring that stress home with them and it strains the relationship. So this stress not only negatively affects their own health, but their partner’s as well,” Chopik added.

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