Sex Roles

, Volume 55, Issue 11–12, pp 801–815 | Cite as

Multiple Roles and Well-being: Sociodemographic and Psychological Moderators

Original Article

Abstract

Research on multiple roles has supported the enhancement hypothesis, but it is unclear if benefits of multiple role involvement exist across all segments of the population. This study was designed to examine whether the role enhancement hypothesis suits both men and women with varied education levels. A further goal was to determine if perceived control moderates associations between multiple role involvement and well-being. This sample included 2,634 individuals from the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) survey who occupied up to eight roles each. Psychological well-being was measured in six dimensions (autonomy, environmental mastery, personal growth, positive relations with others, purpose in life, and self-acceptance); positive and negative affect were also measured. Results of hierarchical regression analyses supported the role enhancement hypothesis, as greater role involvement was associated with greater well-being; however, the findings suggest that it was only well educated women with multiple roles who showed higher levels of autonomy. Perceived control was also found to moderate some of the obtained linkages.

Keywords

Multiple roles Well-being Gender Education Control 

References

  1. Adelmann, P. K. (1994a). Multiple roles and physical health among older adults. Research on Aging, 16, 142–167.Google Scholar
  2. Adelmann, P. K. (1994b). Multiple roles and psychological well-being in a national sample of older adults. Journal of Gerontology, 49, S277–S285.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  4. Ali, J., & Avison, W. R. (1997). Employment transitions and psychological distress: The contrasting experiences of single and married mothers. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 3, 345–362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barnett, R. C., & Hyde, J. S. (2001). Women, men, work, and family: An expansionist theory. American Psychologist, 56, 781–796.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barnett, R. C., Marshall, N. L., & Singer, J. D. (1992). Job experiences over time, multiple roles, and women’s mental health: A longitudinal study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62, 634–644.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bird, C. E., & Ross, C. E. (1993). Houseworkers and paid workers: Qualities of the work and effects on personal control. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 55, 913–925.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brim, O. G., Ryff, C. D., & Kessler, R. C. (2004). How healthy are we? A national study of well-being at midlife. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  9. Burton, R. P. D. (1998). Global integrative meaning as a mediating factor in the relationship between social roles and psychological distress. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 38, 345–362.Google Scholar
  10. Christensen, K. A., Stephens, M. A. P., & Townsend, A. L. (1998). Mastery in women’s multiple roles and well-being: Adult daughters providing care to impaired parents. Health Psychology, 17, 163–171.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Clark, S. L., & Weismantle, M. (2003). Employment status: 2000. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved September 21, 2003 from (http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/c2kbr-18.pdf).
  12. Cochran, D. L., Brown, D. R., & McGregor, K. C. (1999). Racial differences in the multiple social roles of older women: Implications for depressive symptoms. The Gerontologist, 39, 465–472.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Cohen, J., Cohen, P., West, S. G., & Aiken, L. A. (2003). Applied multiple regression/correlation analysis for the behavioral sciences (3rd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  14. Goode, W. J. (1960). A theory of role strain. American Sociological Review, 25, 483–496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hagger, M. S., & Orbell, S. (2003). A meta-analytic review of the common-sense model of illness representations. Psychology and Health, 18, 141–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hong, J., & Seltzer, M. M. (1995). The psychological consequences of multiple roles: The nonnormative case. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 36, 386–398.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jackson, P. B. (1997). Role occupancy and minority mental health. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 38, 237–255.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Janzen, B. L., & Muhajarine, N. (2003). Social role occupancy, gender, income inadequacy, life stage and health: A longitudinal study of employed Canadian men and women. Social Science & Medicine, 57, 1491–1503.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Jutras, S., & Veilleux, F. (1991). Gender roles and care giving to the elderly: An empirical study. Sex Roles, 25, 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kessler, R. C. (1982). A disaggregation of the relationship between socioeconomic status and psychological distress. American Sociological Review, 47, 752–764.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kessler, R. C., Mickelson, K. D., & Williams, D. R. (1999). The prevalence, distribution, and mental health correlates of perceived discrimination in the United States. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 40, 208–230.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Keyes, C. L. M., Shmotkin, D., & Ryff, C. D. (2002). Optimizing well-being: The empirical encounter of two traditions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 1007–1022.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kikuzawa, S. (2006). Multiple roles and mental health in cross-cultural perspective: The elderly in the United States and Japan. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 47, 62–76.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lachman, M. E., & Weaver, S. L. (1998). The sense of control as a moderator of social class differences in health and well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 763–773.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Link, B. G., Lennon, M. C., & Dohrenwend, B. P. (1993). Socioeconomic status and depression: The role of occupations involving direction, control, and planning. American Journal of Sociology, 98, 1351–1387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Marks, S. R. (1977). Multiple roles and role strain: Some notes on human energy, time, and commitment. American Sociological Review, 42, 921–936.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Marks, N. F., Bumpass, L. L., & Jun, H. J. (2004). Family roles and well-being during the middle life course. In O. G. Brim, C. D. Ryff, & R. Kessler (Eds.), How healthy are we? A national study of well-being at midlife (pp. 514–549). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  28. Martire, L. M., Stephens, M. A. P., & Townsend, A. L. (2000). Centrality of women’s multiple roles: Beneficial and detrimental consequences for psychological well-being. Psychology and Aging, 15, 148–156.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Menaghan, E. G. (1989). Role changes and psychological well-being: Variations in effects by gender and role repertoire. Social Forces, 67, 693–714.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Miller, M. L., Moen, P., & Dempster-McClain, D. (1991). Motherhood, multiple roles, and maternal well-being: Women of the 1950s. Gender & Society, 5, 565–582.Google Scholar
  31. Mirowsky, J., & Ross, C. E. (1986). Social patterns of distress. Annual Review of Sociology, 12, 23–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mirowsky, J., & Ross, C. E. (1990). Control or defense? Depression and the sense of control over good and bad outcomes. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 31, 71–86.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Moen, P., Dempster-McClain, D., & Williams, R. M. (1989). Social integration and longevity: An event history analysis of women’s roles and resilience. American Sociological Review, 54, 635–647.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Moen, P., Dempster-McClain, D., & Williams, R. M. (1992). Successful aging: A life-course perspective on women’s multiple roles and health. American Journal of Sociology, 97, 1612–1638.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Mroczek, D. K., & Kolarz, C. M. (1998). The effect of age on positive and negative affect: A developmental perspective on happiness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 1333–1349.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Norton, T. R., Gupta, A., Stephens, M. A. P., Martire, L. M., & Townsend, A. L. (2005). Stress, rewards, and change in the centrality of women’s family and work roles: Mastery as a mediator. Sex Roles, 52, 325–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Pardoe, I., & Weisberg, S. (2001). An introduction to bootstrap methods using Arc. Retrieved January 22, 2003, from the University of Minnesota, School of Statistics Web site: (http://www.stat.umn.edu/arc/bootmethREV.pdf).
  38. Pietromonaco, P. R., Manis, J., & Frohardt-Lane, K. (1986). Psychological consequences of multiple social roles. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 10, 373–382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Prenda, K. M., & Lachman, M. E. (2001). Planning for the future: A life management strategy for increasing control and life satisfaction in adulthood. Psychology and Aging, 16, 206–216.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Ross, C. E., & Mirowsky, J. (1989). Explaining the social patterns of depression: Control and problem solving—Or support and talking? Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 30, 206–219.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ross, C. E., & Mirowsky, J. (1992). Households, employment, and the sense of control. Social Psychology Quarterly, 55, 217–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Ross, C. E., & Van Willigen, M. (1997). Education and the subjective quality of life. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 38, 275–297.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2001). On happiness and human potentials: A review of research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 141–166.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Ryff, C. D., & Keyes, C. L. M. (1995). The structure of psychological well-being revisited. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 719–727.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sachs-Ericsson, N., & Ciarlo, J. A. (2000). Gender, social roles, and mental health: An epidemiological perspective. Sex Roles, 43, 605–628.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Schoon, I., Hansson, L., & Salmela-Aro, K. (2005). Combining work and family life. Life satisfaction among married and divorced men and women in Estonia, Finland, and the UK. European Psychologist, 10, 309–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sieber, S. (1974). Toward a theory of role accumulation. American Sociological Review, 39, 567–578.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Simon, R. W. (1997). The meanings individuals attach to role identities and their implications for mental health. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 38, 256–274.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Stephens, M. A. P., & Franks, M. M. (1999). Parent care in the context of women’s multiple roles. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 8, 149–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Stephens, M. A. P., Franks, M. M., & Townsend, A. L. (1994). Stress and rewards in women’s multiple roles: The case of women in the middle. Psychology and Aging, 9, 45–52.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Thoits, P. A. (1982). Life stress, social support, and psychological vulnerability: Epidemiological considerations. Journal of Community Psychology, 10, 341–362.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Thoits, P. A. (1983). Multiple identities and psychological well-being: A reformulation and test of the social isolation hypothesis. American Sociological Review, 48, 174–187.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Thoits, P. A. (1986). Multiple identities: Examining gender and marital status differences in distress. American Sociological Review, 51, 259–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Thoits, P. A. (1987). Gender and marital status differences in control and distress: Common stress versus unique stress explanations. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 28, 7–22.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. U.S. Bureau of the Census (1998). Population profile of the United States: 1997. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  56. Watkins, S. C., Menken, J. A., & Bongaarts, J. (1987). Demographic foundations of family change. American Sociological Review, 52, 346–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christina J. Chrouser Ahrens
    • 1
  • Carol D. Ryff
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WisconsinMadisonUSA

Personalised recommendations