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Age Moderates the Relationship between Social Support and Psychosocial Problems
Unformatted Document Text:  Age Moderates 6 Theoretical Accounts of the Differential Impact of Social Support from Family and Friends over the Life Span Why would social support from family members be less effective than social support from friends at reducing psychosocial distress in young adults? Do elderly people reap more benefits from family social support than young adults do? Potential answers to these questions can be found in two distinct theories that each have the potential to explain why desired sources of social support change over the life span. According to the theory of evolutionary psychology (Bjorklund & Pellegrini, 2002; Buss & Kenrick, 1998; Caporael, 2001), psychological mechanisms and responses evolved to solve adaptive problems faced by our ancestors. Proponents of evolutionary psychology attempt to understand psychological processes in terms of their adaptive value to the survival of the species, and propagation of genes. Buss and Kenrick (1998) explained that “Over evolutionary time, design features associated with greater reproduction and the genes linked with those design features increase in frequency and hence spread throughout the population” (p. 984). At birth, human beings are entirely dependent upon caregivers, who often take the form of family members. However, as adolescents emerge into young adults, their priorities begin to shift dramatically. The desire to find a mate compels young adults to seek relationships within friendship networks. At the same time, support from family networks takes a secondary role in contributing to the well-being of young adults. Stated simply, there is no quantity or kind of social support from the family that can sooth the longing of a young adult who is desperately seeking a boyfriend or girlfriend. The loneliness and depression felt by such an individual is predictable according to evolutionary

Authors: Segrin, Chris.
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Age Moderates
6
Theoretical Accounts of the Differential Impact of Social Support from Family and Friends
over the Life Span
Why would social support from family members be less effective than social
support from friends at reducing psychosocial distress in young adults? Do elderly people
reap more benefits from family social support than young adults do? Potential answers to
these questions can be found in two distinct theories that each have the potential to explain
why desired sources of social support change over the life span.
According to the theory of evolutionary psychology (Bjorklund & Pellegrini, 2002;
Buss & Kenrick, 1998; Caporael, 2001), psychological mechanisms and responses evolved
to solve adaptive problems faced by our ancestors. Proponents of evolutionary psychology
attempt to understand psychological processes in terms of their adaptive value to the
survival of the species, and propagation of genes. Buss and Kenrick (1998) explained that
“Over evolutionary time, design features associated with greater reproduction and the genes
linked with those design features increase in frequency and hence spread throughout the
population” (p. 984).
At birth, human beings are entirely dependent upon caregivers, who often take the
form of family members. However, as adolescents emerge into young adults, their
priorities begin to shift dramatically. The desire to find a mate compels young adults to
seek relationships within friendship networks. At the same time, support from family
networks takes a secondary role in contributing to the well-being of young adults. Stated
simply, there is no quantity or kind of social support from the family that can sooth the
longing of a young adult who is desperately seeking a boyfriend or girlfriend. The
loneliness and depression felt by such an individual is predictable according to evolutionary


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