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Evidence for the stress-buffering effects of social support in intimate relationships raises important questions about whether partner support promotes recovery in physiological systems implicated in physical health. The present study examined (a) whether observed dyadic coping enhances cortisol stress recovery and (b) whether a stressed partner's self-reported attachment anxiety and avoidance moderate these effects. Stress was experimentally induced by asking either the man or woman in 123 heterosexual couples to participate in a standardized public speaking task. Stressed individuals recovered faster from stress the more positive dyadic coping they received from the partner, with women high in attachment anxiety benefiting less from these behaviors. Attachment avoidance did not moderate these associations. This study highlights the value of examining the interplay between partners' behaviors and attachment orientations in order to understand the impact of stress on close relationships and partners' health.


School of Psychology

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Journal Article

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