Everybody likes to share experiences with other people. When something positive happens in someone’s life they share their good news with those closest to them. For many people, this is also the case when negative events occur. However, according to a recent study led by Laura C. Bouchard of the Department of Psychology at Saint Joseph’s University in Pennsylvania, dwelling on negative experiences by repeatedly discussing them with others can be detrimental to one’s mental health. This process of corumination was the focus of Bouchard’s study and was shown to be predictive of depressive symptoms. Bouchard assessed 349 college students weekly for two months and examined their levels of depression and corumination. She also looked at neediness as a contributing factor and measured the effects of gender.
Bouchard found that neediness, which in this study refers to the desire to have needs met, the need for close attachment and security from others and the need to feel loved and valued, increased the risk for depression in the women, but not in the men. In fact, neediness scores were much higher for the women with depression than any of the men, with or without depression. When she examined corumination, she found that the women who spent extensive time sharing their negative feelings and negative experiences with close friends were the most likely to experience depression.
This finding is multifaceted, as close social relations is an adaptive factor. Women are more interpersonal than men and for adolescent girls, the support received from other girls and friends is a critical part of social development and can actually insulate them from negative internalizing behaviors and other negative psychological outcomes. However, as this study has shown, engaging in corumination as a facet of socializing can post a potential threat to positive mental well-being. Bouchard believes that this research sheds light on the subtle nuances that exist in female relationships and how they can help and harm women’s mental health. She added, “Clinicians would benefit by considering the potential negative effects of close interpersonal relationships held by patients, particularly those who score highly on corumination.”
Bouchard, Laura C., and Josephine H. Shih. (2013). Gender differences in stress generation: Examination of interpersonal predictors. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 32.4 (2013): 424-45. ProQuest. Web.
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