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Conger, Rand D.; Lorenz, Frederick O.; Elder, Glen H., Jr.; Simons, Ronald L.; & Ge, Xiaojia (1993). Husband and Wife Differences in Response to Undesirable Life Events. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 34, 71-88.


In the present study of 451 married couples living in the rural midwest, gender differences were examined in reports of exposure and vulnerability to specific types of undesirable life events. Consistent with expectations derived from either a social structural or identity perspective, the results demonstrated that men are more likely than women to report exposure to and to be distressed by work and financial events. Women, on the other hand, are more strongly influenced by exposure to negative events within the family but not within their network of friends. Outcomes vary according to the type of emotional distress. Financial stress, for example, increases hostility among men more than among women, but wives are more likely than husbands to report somatic complaints in response to the same stressor. The findings demonstrate the need for future research that more directly investigates the intraindividual and social mechanisms which account for gender differences in a broad range of emotional and behavioral responses to varying types of significant life changes.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Journal of Health and Social Behavior


Conger, Rand D.
Lorenz, Frederick O.
Elder, Glen H., Jr.
Simons, Ronald L.
Ge, Xiaojia