Gender Differences in Bereavement Response and Longevity: Findings from the California State University Twin Loss Study
Nancy L. Segal
Factors underlying individual differences in bereavement response have attracted considerable research interest ( Stroebe & Stroebe, 1987; Sanders, 1989; McCrae & Costa, 1993; Rynearson & McCreery, 1993; Hofer, 1994). Such factors include but are not limited to nature of death (expected vs. unexpected), socioeconomic status, availability of social support, gender, age of survivor, age of deceased, and degree of genetic relatedness. A primary focus of this chapter is an analysis of gender-related differences in bereavement response among male and female identical or monozygotic (MZ) twins and fraternal or dizygotic (DZ) twins. These twins were participants in the California State University Twin Loss Study. This unique sample has been used in the past to examine evolutionary-based hypotheses concerning the contributions of genetic relatedness to bereavement processes and outcomes ( Segal & Bouchard, 1993; Segal, Wilson, Bouchard, & Gitlin, 1995), as well as genetic and environmental influences on suicidal behavior ( Segal & Roy, 1996; Roy, Segal, Sarchiapone, & Lavin, 1994). The present analysis thus extends this ongoing research program by (1) examining gender-related differences in measures of bereavement and (2) directing needed attention to the significance of twin and sibling loss. Opportunities to contribute to research concerned with sex differences in longevity and cause of death were also provided. Selected findings are considered with reference to an evolutionary perspective on bereavement.