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Risk Factors and Causes


Dr. Patel
Any number of biopsychosocial factors can contribute to interpersonal problems. Dr. Mansfield, can you tell us about a few common contributing factors?

Dr. Mansfield
Certainly, Dr. Patel. Any biopsychosocial factor that causes stress can become a risk factor for interpersonal problems. When we don't deal effectively with life stressors, the consequences can impact our relationships with family, friends, and coworkers.

For example, some biological factors that might cause stress include experiencing an illness, suffering an injury, or the physical consequences of an imbalanced lifestyle. When we aren't feeling well physically, it can affect our emotions and thoughts. Changes in emotions and thoughts, in turn, can impact us, people around us, and how we interact with others.

Social and environmental factors can work in much the same way. Financial hardship, moving to a new community, and the loss of a loved one are examples of stressors that can cause tension in interpersonal relationships. Other social factors may be learned cultural behaviors or childhood experiences that shape a person's expectations and interactions.

An example of a psychological factor that might contribute to interpersonal problems is clashing personalities. Each of us has personality types we struggle to get along with. If we don't learn to work effectively with a variety of personality types, it can lead to interpersonal problems.

Other factors that sometimes contribute to interpersonal problems include our thoughts and assumptions about what's fair or unfair in life, and about how other people "should" behave or think. When our beliefs about the world don't align with those of others, it can cause tension in our relationships.