Psychology Ph.D. Dissertations


Processes of Strain Crossover between Dual-Earner Couples

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Steve Jex

Second Advisor

Michael Zickar (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Robert Carels (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Man Zhang


Many working individuals are part of a dyadic relationship (e.g., couple). Experiences of one member of the dyad are linked not only to individual outcomes but also to the partner’s outcomes. Using 330 Korean matched dual-income couples, this study investigated a phenomenon where strains due to work and family demands cross over between working spouses. Drawing upon Westman’s (2001) theory of crossover, this study supported indirect crossover mechanisms via two types of interpersonal interactions using Structural Equation Modeling analysis based on the Actor-Partner Interdependence Model. First, one’s strain was positively related to one’s own social undermining behaviors directed at his/her spouse, which in turn influenced the spouse’s strain level. Second, one’s strain was negatively related to one’s own social support behaviors toward his/her spouse, which in turn also affected the strain level of the spouse. These two indirect crossover effects were not significantly different between the two directions from husbands to wives and from wives to husbands. Thus, the gender differences in crossover were not supported. As the interdependent stress experiences between working spouses naturally occur in their relationships, current examination of strain crossover in couple dyads provides more realistic insights into stress processes. Implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.