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Psychobiological and Evolutionary Perspectives on Coping and Health Characteristics Following Loss: A Twin Study

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 February 2012

Nancy L. Segal*
Department of Psychology, California State University, Fullerton, USA.
Shelley A. Blozis
Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis, USA.
*Address for correspondence: Nancy L. Segal, Department of Psychology, California State University, Fullerton, California 92834, USA.


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An analysis of coping, grief and health characteristics is reported for a bereaved monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) same-sex twin sample. The data were examined with reference to psychobiological and evolutionary perspectives on behavior. A Coping Scale, included as part of a comprehensive Twin Loss Survey (TLS), assessed coping with daily responsibilities and activities 1–2 months before the co-twin's death, 1–2 months following the co-twin's death and currently. A Grief Intensity Scale obtained judgments of grief 1–2 months following the loss, and currently. Information on physical symptoms was available from the Somatization Scale of the Grief Experience Inventory. Psychobiological and evolutionary perspectives specified hypotheses for two twin groups: one model was specified to reflect bereavement experiences immediately following loss of the co-twin (retrospective twin group); a second model represented present bereavement response (current twin group). Consistent with psychobiological theory, twins' social closeness showed a positive association with grief intensity which, in turn, affected somatic symptoms and coping efficacy in predicted directions. With respect to evolutionary psychological theory, the effect of zygosity on current grief implicated correlates of genetic relatedness as factors in the bereavement process.

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