Research shows Mexican Americans typically have better cardiovascular health than European Americans, despite being relatively economically disadvantaged. Given research indicating the importance of relationship quality on one's health, the present study examined whether certain relationship orientations (e.g. communal or exchange) were more prevalent in different ethnic groups and if these orientations could help explain this Hispanic Paradox. 582 adults were recruited from the community. Participants were primarily European American (40%) and foreign-born Mexican Americans (55%). A cross-sectional designed was used where participants wore 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure (ABP) monitors and completed self-report measures of relationship satisfaction and relationship orientation. Results indicated that, contrary to predictions, European Americans tended to have more of a communal relationship orientation compared to foreign-born Mexican Americans. As expected however, communal orientation was predictive of higher relationship satisfaction, β = .29, SE = .07, p < .001, 95% CI [.15, .43], and while higher relationship satisfaction predicted lower systolic blood pressure, R2 = .02, β = -.16, SE = .07, p < .05, 95% CI [-.31, -.01], when ethnicity was added into the model this relationship was eliminated and foreign-born Mexican Americans had higher ABP compared to European Americans, β = 4.72, SE = 2.25, p < .05, 95% CI [.29, 9.14]. While there were these important differences, communal and exchange orientations had minimal direct or indirect effects on ABP. Even though communal and exchange relationship orientation don't seem to give us any more information to unravel the Hispanic Paradox, there are important ethnic differences in how we engage in marriage relationships and future research may consider other approaches to examine the health effects of these differences.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Psychology



Date Submitted


Document Type





ambulatory blood pressure, Mexican American, communal, exchange, marriage



Included in

Psychology Commons