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Global Integrative Meaning as a Mediating Factor in the Relationship between Social Roles and Psychological Distress

Russell P. D. Burton
Journal of Health and Social Behavior
Vol. 39, No. 3 (Sep., 1998), pp. 201-215
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2676313
Page Count: 15
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Abstract

Previous scholars' attempts to account for the salutary effects of social roles (i.e., employment, marriage, and parenting) on distress have considered the mediating effects of role-specific identity meaning. These attempts, however, have had limited success. I argue that social roles affect distress because they provide a global integrative meaning and that this integrative concept of meaning is theoretically different from role-specific identity meaning. My data were drawn from a national probability sample of 2,248 respondents age 18 years and over. My results provide substantial evidence that social roles have a salutary relationship on distress and that integrative meaning mediates these effects. The effects of the marriage and parenting roles on distress are the most affected by the mediating effects of integrative meaning. My discussion addresses these findings in light of recent research which considers other theoretically important and potentially related constructs such as role-specific identity meaning, global self-esteem and role-specific self-esteem.

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