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Work Hours Affect Spouse’s Cortisol Secretion—For Better And for Worse

Klumb, Petra PhD; Hoppmann, Christiane PhD; Staats, Melanie PhD

doi: 10.1097/01.psy.0000233231.55482.ff
Original Articles

Objective: In a sample of 52 German dual-earner couples with at least one child under age 5, we examined the bodily costs and benefits of the amount of time each spouse spent on productive activities.

Methods: Diary reports of time allocated to formal and informal work activities were analyzed according to the Actor-Partner Interdependence model.

Results: Hierarchical linear models showed that each hour an individual allocated to market, as well as household work, increased his or her total cortisol concentration (by 192 and 134 nmol/l, respectively). Unexpectedly, the time the spouse allocated to paid work also raised an individual’s total cortisol concentration (by 64 nmol/l). In line with our expectations, there was a tendency for the time the spouse allocated to household work to decrease the individual’s cortisol concentration (by 81 nmol/l).

Conclusions: This study contributes to the body of evidence on the complex nature of social relationships and complements the literature on specific working conditions and couples’ well-being.

From the University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland (P.K.); Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA (C.H.); Technical University Berlin, Berlin, Germany (M.S.).

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Petra Klumb, Department of Psychologie, University of Fribourg, Rue de Faucigny 2, 1700 Fribourg, Switzerland. E-mail:

Received for publication February 23, 2006; revision received May 12, 2006.

Copyright © 2006 by American Psychosomatic Society
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