Crossover of Stress and Strain between Spouses


  • Mina Westman

Document type: Encyclopedia Entry

Appears in: Work and Family Encyclopedia

Year: 2005


  • Business Case
  • Social Support
  • Spillover
  • Stress


  • Business and Management


There is ample evidence that job stress has an impact on workers’ mental and physical well-being. Little attention, however, has been paid to workers’ significant others’ reactions. Job stress arises when demands exceed abilities, while job-related strains are reactions or outcomes resulting from the experience of stress. In this entry, we follow the differentiation of Bolger, DeLongis, Kessler and Wethington (1989) between two situations in which stress is contagious: spillover – stress experienced in one domain of life results in stress in the other domain for the same individual; and crossover – stress experienced in the workplace by the individual’s spouse leads to stress being experienced by the individual at home. Whereas spillover is an intraindividual, inter-domain contagion of stress, crossover is a dyadic, interindividual, inter-domain contagion. Thus, the inter-personal process that occurs when a psychological strain experienced by one person affects the level of strain of another person in the same social environment, is referred to as crossover. Thus, spillover is a process by which attitudes and behavior carry over from one role to another. Crossover research is based upon the propositions of the spillover model, i.e., the recognition of the fluid boundaries between work and family life. Spillover is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for crossover. The crossover model adds another level of analysis to previous approaches by adding the intraindividual level and the dyad as an additional focus of research. In other words, crossover is conceptualized as a process occurring from one individual at the work place to his/her spouse at home. This indicates that whereas spillover affects only the individual, crossover can affect the dyad and the family.

Link:Crossover-Stress_and_Strain encyclopedia