The role of unmitigated agency and unmitigated communion in physical and psychological health

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Jerome B. Dusek


Developmental psychology, Personality, gender

Subject Categories

Developmental Psychology


This study is an examination of the unmitigated components of the gender-associated traits of agency and communion and their effects upon physical and psychological health, perceived stress, and health behaviors. A sample of 239 adults (117 males and 122 females) completed measures that assessed gender-associated personality traits (Extended Personal Attributes Questionnaire), perceived stress (Perceived Stress Scale), perceived health, health behaviors (Health Behaviors Inventory) and psychological well-being (Bradburn Affect Balance Scale). Intercorrelations provided only partial evidence for the detrimental effects of unmitigated agency and unmitigated communion on health outcomes. High unmitigated agency was weakly associated with negative health behaviors. High unmitigated communion was weakly associated with poorer physical health, greater perceived stress, and poorer psychological well-being. Other analyses also offered only weak support for the effects of unmitigated agency and unmitigated communion on health. Results of hierarchical regressions indicated that physical health was predicted by the combination of unmitigated communion, stress and health behaviors. Unmitigated agency was not a significant predictor of physical health. Results of hierarchical regressions also revealed that the unmitigated components of agency and communion were better predictors of perceived stress than one's sex. In addition, the findings suggested that unmitigated agency, together with stress, offered a better explanation for health behaviors than would either factor alone. Avenues for additional research to disentangle the social factors that may contribute to the well-documented sex differences in health, morbidity and mortality are also discussed.