Date of this Version
Voichoski, Erin. 2018. "Gendered Responses to Stress: Differences Across Type of Stressor and Mental Health Outcomes." B.A., University of Nebraska - Lincoln.
It is well known in mental health literature that men and women tend to manifest distinct mental health outcomes. Specifically, women tend to report higher levels of internalizing symptoms, such as depression and anxiety, whereas men tend to report higher levels of externalizing symptoms, such as alcohol abuse and antisocial behavior. This research will further explore the relationship between stress and mental health, as well as the moderating effect of gender. Drawing from the differential vulnerability hypothesis and self-salience theory, I take a novel approach to examining a variety of stressors and mental health outcomes. I assess whether stressors that are particularly salient to either men (masculine-salient) or women (feminine-salient) differentially shape internalizing and externalizing mental health outcomes by gender. I expected feminine-salient stressors to be more detrimental for women’s internalizing outcomes and masculine-salient stressors to be more detrimental for men’s externalizing outcomes. I used data from the National Health, Well-being, and Perspectives Survey to examine these hypotheses. Contrary to expectations, some stressors appeared gender-neutral and had a consistent effect on internalizing outcomes across gender. For example, poor physical health and daily strain increased internalizing outcomes for both men and women to the same extent. In other instances, gender moderated the stress-health association in a manner opposite than expected. For example, men’s internalizing outcomes were more strongly impacted by a perceived threat to the safety of one’s significant others than women’s internalizing outcomes. The implication of these findings for the proposed theory and future research are discussed.