This study examined the longer-term effects of the COVID-19 lockdowns on relational communication and mental health. Specifically, the study used the theoretic premises of Affection Exchange Theory (AET: Floyd, 2006) to hypothesize connections between affection deprivation and several indices of mental health, including loneliness and depression. The study used a panel design to recruit participants at different time points during the COVID-19 lockdowns. We employed growth modeling to examine how affection deprivation influenced mental health outcomes over time. As predicted, affection deprivation was associated with stress, loneliness, and depression. Contrary to our hypotheses, affection deprivation was not associated with life satisfaction and happiness. In addition, the results showed that sex moderated the relationship between affection deprivation and depression. These findings are discussed in detail, including both theoretical and practical implications as well as directions for future research.
- affection deprivation
- mental health