Well-being contagion in the family: Transmission of happiness and distress between parents and children

Peilian CHI, Hongfei DU, Ronnel Bornasal KING, Nan ZHOU, Hongjian CAO, Xiuyun LIN

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Abstract

Psychological well-being is contagious within families. However, two key issues remain unresolved: a) which type of well-being is transmitted and b) who transmits to whom The present study aims to answer these two questions by drawing on a longitudinal and nationally representative sample to examine a) whether both positive and negative aspects of well-being can be transmitted and b) whether both parents and children transmit well-being to each other. Analyses were conducted using the China Family Panel Studies data in 2010 (2971 adolescents and their parents) and 2014. Cross-lagged analysis showed that the positive aspect of well-being (i.e., subjective well-being, SWB) was almost fully transmitted among all family members. In contrast, the negative aspect of well-being (i.e., psychological distress, PD) was transmitted only from fathers to mothers and from fathers to adolescent children. A gender-specific effect emerged such that sons rather than daughters predicted fathers' SWB. Well-being contagion in families was more robust for the positive aspect of well-being. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed. Copyright © 2019 Springer Nature B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2189-2202
JournalChild Indicators Research
Volume12
Issue number6
Early online dateApr 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

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Happiness
happiness
parents
Parents
well-being
Fathers
Nuclear Family
Psychology
father
China
Mothers
adolescent
child well-being
family member

Citation

Chi, P., Du, H., King, R. B., Zhou, N., Cao, H., & Lin, X. (2019). Well-being contagion in the family: Transmission of happiness and distress between parents and children. Child Indicators Research, 12(6), 2189-2202. doi: 10.1007/s12187-019-09636-4

Keywords

  • Contagion
  • Family
  • Subjective well-being
  • Psychological distress