- Daily social stressors are important everyday experiences that influence an individual’s daily health and well-being across the lifespan. One pathway through which daily social stressors influence health and well-being is through changes in positive and negative affect. The vast majority of previous research has focused on individual difference characteristics to understand whom daily social stressors impact the most. Little research, however, has examined the characteristics of daily stressors to understand which stressors have the greatest impact, or whether individual difference and stressor characteristics interact to impact daily positive and negative affect. The purpose of the current study was to answer the following questions: (a) Is the association between daily social stressors and stressor-related affect moderated by who is involved?; (b) Does resolution status moderate the association between daily social stressors and stressor-related affect?; (c) Do resolution status and who is involved interact to moderate the association between daily social stressors and stressor-related affect?; (d) Does gender moderate the associations between who is involved, resolution status, and their interaction and stressor-related affect? and (e) Does age moderate the associations between who is involved, resolution status, and their interaction - stressor-related affect?.
This study utilized data from the second wave of the National Study of Daily Experiences (NDSE II; N = 2,022). The NSDE II was an eight day nightly telephone interview consisting of assessments of negative and positive affect, daily stressful experiences (e.g., arguments, avoided arguments, network stressors), who was involved in these events, and whether each daily social stressor was resolved. Participants’ age ranged from 33-84 (M = 56.25, SD = 12.20); 56% of the participants were female, 84% Caucasian, and 46.29% had some college education. Results suggested that for days when arguments occurred, who is involved was associated with increased negative affect, particularly for arguments involving non-family members. On days with arguments and avoided arguments, resolution status moderated the effect of arguments and avoided arguments for negative affect and arguments for positive affect with larger increases in negative affect and larger decreases in positive affect for unresolved events. Who is involved, and resolution status only interacted to predict negative affect for arguments where resolution status moderated the effect of family – the strongest associations resulted for unresolved non-family arguments. Gender moderated associations between network stressors and positive affect such that men reported larger decreases in positive affect for family members compared to women. Additionally, gender moderated the interaction between who is involved and resolution status for negative affect on avoided arguments: women unresolved non-family avoided arguments were associated with the largest increase in negative affect. Finally, age moderated the associations between who is involved, resolution status, and negative affect for avoided arguments such that resolution status decreased levels of negative affect for younger adults family-avoided arguments whereas resolution status increased levels of negative affect for older adults family-avoided arguments. Taken together, the results of this study underscore the importance of disambiguating stressors based on their characteristics. Importantly, this study provides insight into what makes some daily social stressors more impactful on affective well-being, and for whom. Future research would benefit from examination of the roles of who is involved in relation to daily stressor-affect associations, in addition to the meaning and contribution of resolution to the daily stress process.