Discrimination Not Only Harms One's Health But Partner’s Too

Discrimination not only harms the health and well-being of the victim, but the victim’s romantic partner as well, according to new research.

“We found that when an individual experiences discrimination, they report worse health and depression,” said Dr. William Chopik, an assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University (MSU), who conducted the study with current and former MSU students. “However, that’s not the full story — this stress spills over and affects the health of their partner as well.”

For the study, the researchers studied survey data from 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.

According to Chopik, the study found that it didn’t matter where the discrimination came from — race, age, gender, or other factors.

“What matters is that they felt that they were unfairly treated,” he said. “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 relationship. So this stress not only negatively affects their own health, but their partner’s as well.”

The study was published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Source: Michigan State University
 
Photo: 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.