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Age Moderates the Relationship between Social Support and Psychosocial Problems
Unformatted Document Text:  Age Moderates 21 Following socioemotional selectivity theory and the theory of evolutionary psychology, social support from family members was expected to have the weakest effect on loneliness and depression at earlier stages in the adult life span. The significant age by perceived family social support interaction for depression, but not loneliness, was inconsistent with this hypothesis. Family social support was most strongly (and negatively) associated with depression at younger ages. At older age, this relationship was just barely significant. An analysis of contact patterns with family members revealed an identical interaction, this time with loneliness as the dependent variable: The young appeared to benefit more than the elderly from contact with family members. At a younger age in the life span, the association between family contact and loneliness was = -.32, p < .001, whereas at older age this relationship was no longer significant, = -.06, ns. These results differ dramatically from those of Jones and Moore (1990) who found a positive association between family social support and loneliness. One potential difference between the two investigations is that Jones and Moore studied a sample in their late teens through early twenties. In the present investigation, the regression slope for “younger” age represents a figure closer to 30 years old. It was also predicated that age would moderate the relationship between social support from friends and psychosocial problems. However, the results indicated that the effects of friend social support were uniform across the life span. All participants, regardless of their age appeared to benefit substantially, in terms of less depression and loneliness, from friend social support. Of course, one should also consider the possibility that people lend their support to friends who appear to be lonely or depressed. An identical

Authors: Segrin, Chris.
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Age Moderates
21
Following socioemotional selectivity theory and the theory of evolutionary
psychology, social support from family members was expected to have the weakest effect
on loneliness and depression at earlier stages in the adult life span. The significant age by
perceived family social support interaction for depression, but not loneliness, was
inconsistent with this hypothesis. Family social support was most strongly (and negatively)
associated with depression at younger ages. At older age, this relationship was just barely
significant. An analysis of contact patterns with family members revealed an identical
interaction, this time with loneliness as the dependent variable: The young appeared to
benefit more than the elderly from contact with family members. At a younger age in the
life span, the association between family contact and loneliness was = -.32, p < .001,
whereas at older age this relationship was no longer significant, = -.06, ns. These results
differ dramatically from those of Jones and Moore (1990) who found a positive association
between family social support and loneliness. One potential difference between the two
investigations is that Jones and Moore studied a sample in their late teens through early
twenties. In the present investigation, the regression slope for “younger” age represents a
figure closer to 30 years old.
It was also predicated that age would moderate the relationship between social
support from friends and psychosocial problems. However, the results indicated that the
effects of friend social support were uniform across the life span. All participants,
regardless of their age appeared to benefit substantially, in terms of less depression and
loneliness, from friend social support. Of course, one should also consider the possibility
that people lend their support to friends who appear to be lonely or depressed. An identical


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