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.
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A multiple roles squared term was added to the basic models to test for curvilinearity effects. There were significant quadratic trends for environmental mastery, positive relations with others, self-acceptance, and positive affect. In each case, the linear effect remained significant and was stronger than the curvilinear effect. For the remaining outcomes, the addition of the squared multiple roles term did not change the significance of the linear effects.
The construct of perceived control may overlap conceptually with the constructs of environmental mastery and autonomy. The correlation between perceived control and environmental mastery is 0.59 and between perceived control and autonomy is 0.33. Correlations between other variables are available upon request.
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Support for the investigators at the MIDUS project was provided by a grant from the National Institute on Aging (P01-AG020166) to the University of Wisconsin—Madison. The authors are grateful to Janet Hyde, Judy Harackiewicz, and Jeremy Biesanz for helpful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.
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Ahrens, C.J.C., Ryff, C.D. Multiple Roles and Well-being: Sociodemographic and Psychological Moderators. Sex Roles 55, 801–815 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-006-9134-8
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