Study researcher Kira Birditt, of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, and colleagues found that when people experience tension with someone else, whether their boss, spouse, or child, sidestepping confrontation could be bad for their health.
Avoiding conflict was associated with more symptoms of physical problems the next day than was actually engaging in an argument, they found.
"Relationships have important influences on how we feel on a daily basis, especially the problems in our relationships," Live Science quoted Birditt as saying.
"How we deal with problems affects our daily well-being," she added.
In a previous study, Birditt and her colleagues found that the most common way for people to deal with their interpersonal problems is to simply avoid them. The researchers wanted to know the health impacts of this avoidance behavior.
They analyzed data from 1,842 adults ages 33 to 84 who took part in the Nation Study of Daily Experiences. Each day for eight days, participants were asked whether they had engaged in an argument or whether they had experienced a situation in which they could have argued but decided to let it pass without a fight. The subjects also gave saliva samples for four of the days.
The study was presented here on Aug. 12 at the 118th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association.
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