Daily Interpersonal Experience Partially Explains the Association between Social Rank and Physical Health
Cundiff, Jenny M.
Kamarck, Thomas W.
Manuck, Stephen B.
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Background: Socioeconomic position is a well-established risk factor for poor physical health. Purpose: This study examines whether the effects of lower social rank on physical health may be accounted for by differences in daily social experience. Methods: In a large community sample (N=475), we examined whether subjective social rank is associated with self-rated health, in part, through positive and negative perceptions of daily interpersonal interactions, assessed using ecological momentary assessment. Results: Higher social rank was associated with higher average perceived positivity of social interactions in daily life (e.g., B=.18, p<.001), but not with perceived negativity of social interactions. Further, the association between social rank and self-rated physical health was partially accounted for by differences in perceived positivity of social interactions. This effect was independent of well-characterized objective markers of SES and personality traits. Conclusions: Differences in the quality of day-to-day social interactions is a viable pathway linking lower social rank to poorer physical health.