Psychological adaptation to marital breakup in middle-aged persons: the role of gender and time

Knöpfli, Bina; Hutchison, Sara; Perrig-Chiello, Pasqualina (6 September 2013). Psychological adaptation to marital breakup in middle-aged persons: the role of gender and time. In: 16th European Conference on Developmental Psychology. Lausanne. 03.-07.09.2013.

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Marital breakup is among the most incisive stressors in adult life. While the negative effects of divorce on well-being are well documented in research literature, the large interindividual differences in psychological adaptation to marital dissolution are still not well understood. One major controversially discussed question is, whether marital dissolution represents a temporary crisis or rather a chronic strain. But also with regard of the role of gender results are mixed. The aim of the present study is to investigate the psychological adaptation (depression, perceived stress and life satisfaction) to marital breakup in a sample of 980 middle-aged persons (M = 51.8 years) who were partnered on average 19.4 years. We compared four time groups: one with a separation within the last 12 months (84 women, 36 men), another within the last 13-24 months (75 women, 19 men), a third within 25-60 months (121 women, 49 men), and one with a separation more than 60 months ago (189 women, 144 men). A group of 348 age-matched married people served as control group (189 women, 159 men). Findings from ANOVA with the outcome depression as well as with the outcome perceived stress yielded a significant main effect for both factors (gender and time). The group who had experienced a separation within the last 12 months differed significantly from all other groups (higher depression score and higher perceived stress). No significant main effect for the factor time was found for the outcome life satisfaction. Regarding gender differences, females from all time groups displayed higher depression scores and higher perceived stress but lower life satisfaction than males. These results give important insights into the process of adaptation to marital breakup, which can be used for counselling.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Developmental Psychology

UniBE Contributor:

Knöpfli, Bina; Hutchison, Sara and Perrig-Chiello, Pasqualina


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology




Bina Knöpfli

Date Deposited:

22 Sep 2014 11:31

Last Modified:

13 Dec 2014 06:59




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