Links between Couples’ Cynical Hostility and Mental Health: A Dyadic Investigation of Older Couples

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Whereas sharing a life with someone with high cynical hostility can be straining, little is known about how partner’s cynical hostility is associated with one’s mental health. In this paper, we report the findings from a longitudinal dyadic study using two waves of a large and representative American sample of older adults and their spouses to examine how one’s own and their spouse’s cynical hostility longitudinally affect anxiety and depressive symptoms. Results from APIM analyses suggest that both husbands’ and wives’ anxiety and depressive symptoms were negatively associated with their own cynical hostility, both within each time point and longitudinally. Partners’ cynical hostility, however, predicted only husbands’ mental health cross-sectionally. Furthermore, a moderating effect was identified, although it was not consistently observed across all analyses. Specifically, when a partner’s cynical hostility was high, the association between one’s own cynical hostility and their mental health was stronger, especially for women. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number283
JournalBehavioral Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - 28 Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 by the authors.


  • anxiety
  • couples
  • cynical hostility
  • depression
  • marital relations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Development
  • Genetics
  • General Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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