Psychological overinvolvement, emotional distress, and daily affect following marital dissolution

Kyle J. Bourassa, Allison M. Tackman, Matthias R. Mehl, David A. Sbarra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Martial dissolution is associated with risk for poor mental health outcomes, but less is known about the variables and processes that may explain this risk. In a sample of recently-separated adults (N = 138), this study examined the association of psychological overinvolvement—assessed using a composite of self-reported rumination, language use, and judge-rated recounting and reconstruing—with daily affect and psychological distress. We included objective measures of sleep, behavioral displays of distress, and social engagement as potential mediators of these associations. Consistent with the preregistered hypotheses, greater psychological overinvolvement predicted higher levels of psychological distress, lower happiness, and greater sadness five months later. Psychological overinvolvement also predicted change in sadness, but not happiness or psychological distress, over five months. Contrary to our predictions, none of the candidate mediators explained these associations. Exploratory analyses suggested that the self-reported rumination component of the psychological overinvolvement composite largely accounted for the association between psychological overinvolvement and the three outcomes. People’s tendency to become overinvolved in their psychological experience after divorce predicts increased risk for distress in the months following marital separation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8
JournalCollabra: Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019


  • Daily affect
  • Divorce
  • Marital dissolution
  • Psychological distress
  • Psychological overinvolvement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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