Comment: Married or not, social attachment, emotional support, and economic support significantly reduce distress.

Journal of Marriage and Family

Ross, Catherine E.

Ross, C. E. (1995). Reconceptualizing marital status as a continuum of social attachment. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 57(1), 129-140.


Reconceptualizes marital status as social attachment in order to examine the effect of marital status on well-being. Using data from a national probability sample of 2,031 adults (aged 18–90 yrs), 4 levels on a continuum of social attachment were compared: no partner, partner outside the household, living with partner in the household, living with married partner in the household. Adjusting for age, sex, and race, results indicate that the higher the level of social attachment, the lower the level of psychological distress, although living with a partner and being married were not significantly different. Social attachment, emotional support, and economic support significantly reduced distress and explained the positive effect of being married and the negative effect of being single or divorced on psychological well-being. Although relationships generally improved well-being, unhappy relationships were worse than none at all.