Genetic effects on women's positive mental health: Do marital relationships and social support matter?

Erica L. Spotts, Nancy L. Pedersen, Jenae M. Neiderhiser, David Reiss, Paul Lichtenstein, Kjell Hansson, Marianne Cederblad

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Interpersonal relationships are important factors in mental health. A genetically sensitive design was used to examine associations among marital quality, adequacy of social support, and 2 aspects of positive mental health in a sample of 652 Swedish twin women and their families. There were 3 main findings. First, the covariance between relationships and positive mental health was partially accounted for by common genetic variance. Second, nonshared environmental influences played a substantial role in the covariance among the 3 constructs, with evidence for husbands being a source of this influence. Finally, different patterns of associations were found between relationships and 2 aspects of mental health, well-being and global self-worth, which shows how seemingly similar constructs can be differentially associated with relationships. Together, these findings emphasize the importance of genetically informed studies in family research and the role of the environment and interpersonal relationships in promoting and improving mental health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)339-349
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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