Author: Liu S, et al. (2013) Journal of Family Psychology.
Little is known about the daily processes in which spouses possibly influence each other in biological stress. Nineteen heterosexual couples provided saliva samples containing cortisol 4 times a day for 4 consecutive days. Multilevel modeling was performed to examine the couple's cortisol awaking response (CAR) and diurnal cortisol slope (DCS). The researchers found that spouses synchronize their DCS, but positive synchrony in CAR was only observed in couples reporting high levels of marital strain and disagreement. Also, couples reporting more spousal support tend to have stronger stability in CAR. These findings provide evidence that spouses are interdependent in their diurnal cortisol patterns on a day-to-day basis, and that these daily dynamics are associated with marital relationship quality.