Change in the centrality of women's multiple roles: Effects of role stress and rewards

Tina R. Norton, Mary Ann Parris Stephens, Lynn M. Martire, Aloen L. Townsend, Anita Gupta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objectives. To examine (a) change versus stability over one year in four social roles occupied by 182 midlife women (parent care provider, mother, wife and employee), (b) increases in role stress and increases in role rewards as predictors of change in centrality, and (c) whether increases in stress or increases in rewards were stronger predictors when the 2 were considered simultaneously. Method. Interviews were conducted at 2 time points approximately 1 year apart. Participants were asked to rate the personal importance of each role on a scale of 1 to 10. Stress and rewards in each role were also assessed. Results. Analyses revealed considerable change in role centrality, especially in the parent-care and employee roles. Increases in wife and employee stress were associated with decreases in the centrality of these roles, whereas increases in rewards in each of the four roles were related to increases in the centrality of the respective roles. When considered simultaneously, role rewards were stronger predictors of change in centrality than role stress. Discussion. These findings suggest that the centrality of a social role can change over time in response to stressful and rewarding role experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S52-S62
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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