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No place like home: home tours correlate with daily patterns of mood and cortisol.

ABSTRACT

The way people describe their homes may reflect whether their time at home feels restorative or stressful. This article uses linguistic analysis software (Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count) to analyze 60 dual-income spouses' self-guided home tours by calculating the frequency of words describing clutter, a sense of the home as unfinished, restful words, and nature words. Based on a principal components analysis, the former two categories were combined into the variable stressful home and the latter two into restorative home. Over 3 weekdays following the home tours, wives with higher stressful home scores had flatter diurnal slopes of cortisol, a profile associated with adverse health outcomes, whereas women with higher restorative home scores had steeper cortisol slopes. These results held after controlling for marital satisfaction and neuroticism. Women with higher stressful home scores had increased depressed mood over the course of the day, whereas women with higher restorative home scores had decreased depressed mood over the day.