Comparing the interpersonal behavior of distressed couples with and without depression

Lynne M. Knobloch-Fedders*, Leanne K. Knobloch, C. Emily Durbin, Andrea Rosen, Kenneth L. Critchfield

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    20 Scopus citations


    Objective: This study compared the interpersonal behavior of distressed couples with depression in one partner (n = 23) to distressed couples without depression in either partner (n = 38). Method: Participants (mean age = 44 years old) were recruited at an urban outpatient mental health center. Couples discussed the three best things in their relationship, and their interactions were coded using Structural Analysis of Social Behavior (Benjamin, 1987). Results: Self- and partner-focused hostility were associated with actors' and partners' relationship distress. Actors' hostility towards partners was positively associated with partners' depression status, but negatively associated with partners' depression symptoms. Actors' control behavior was positively associated with their relationship distress. Whereas the behavior of depressed individuals did not differ from a control sample of nondepressed individuals, partners of depressed individuals displayed more partner-focused hostility and submissiveness than controls. Conclusions: Results underscore the importance of considering partner effects when conceptualizing depression within distressed relationships.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1250-1268
    Number of pages19
    JournalJournal of Clinical Psychology
    Issue number12
    StatePublished - Dec 1 2013


    • Couples
    • Depression
    • Interpersonal behavior
    • Observational assessment
    • Relationship distress
    • Structural Analysis of Social Behavior

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
    • Clinical Psychology


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