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Stress Depends on How Many Roles We Play

Stress Depends on How Many Roles We Play

Women have a hard time switching social roles

woman driving a car

We usually show different sides of ourselves on the workfloor than we do when we’re with family. In a group of friends we play yet another role, and so we do in a sport’s club. This switching between such social settings makes life stressful, a study suggests.

That seems to be the case at least for the women in the study. Sociology Professor Benjamin Cornwell of the American Cornell University analyzed time-diary data of 7.662 respondents from the 2010 American Time Use Survey and found that ‘switching dynamics’ is disproportionately stressful for women.

Cornwell looked at how many social roles respondents played and how many settings they visited on a given day. It turned out that individuals who switched more frequently between these roles and settings reported higher levels of stress. This doesn’t necessarily mean role-switching is causing stress. It’s also very likely for instance that counting the settings people visit is a good measure of how busy their lives are.

Men, anyhow, don’t seem to have any problems with social switching. Maybe that’s why they also need less so called ‘retail therapy’.

Photo: Flickr, druid labs

Cornwell, B. (2013). Switching Dynamics and the Stress Process Social Psychology Quarterly, 76 (2), 99-124 DOI: 10.1177/0190272513482133

complicated roles of women in society

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