Affection exchange theory predicts that both excessive affection and affection deprivation are associated with poorer health, compared with receiving the level of affectionate communication that one desires. A similar yet-untested prediction is that affection deprivation is more aversive than excessive affection. This preregistered study tested both hypotheses on a battery of mental and physical health outcomes, including depression, loneliness, stress, physical pain, frequency of nightmares, and sleep quality, using a Census-matched sample of U.S. American adults (N = 827). As hypothesized, receiving the right amount of affection was associated with more health-supportive scores on all outcomes than either excessive or deficient affection. Similarly, excessive affection was associated with lower depression, loneliness, stress, and pain, and higher sleep quality, than affection deprivation.
- affection deprivation
- affectionate communication
- excessive affection
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Life-span and Life-course Studies