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Household Work Complexity, Intellectual Functioning, and Self-Esteem in Men and Women

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Using data from a U.S. longitudinal investigation of psychological effects of occupational conditions (a project of the National Institute of Mental Health’s unit on Socioenvironmental Studies), we examined the relationship between the complexity of household work and 2 psychological variables: intellectual flexibility and self-esteem. Longitudinal reciprocal effects analyses revealed that for men (n = 351) and women (n = 355), more complex household work was associated with increased intellectual flexibility. For women, complex household work was also associated with increased self-confidence and decreased self-deprecation. For men, complex household work was associated with decreased self-confidence. The results are discussed in terms of theories of the cognitive and neurological effects of environmental complexity and of theories of self-esteem.
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Keywords: family roles; housework/division of labor; personality; self-esteem

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: National Institute of Mental Health

Publication date: 01 November 2006

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