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Age Moderates the Relationship between Social Support and Psychosocial Problems
Unformatted Document Text:  Age Moderates 9 network members over the life span, as specified in socioemotional sensitivity theory, may be manifest in relationship standards. Research on unmarried middle-aged adults (Burnley & Kurth, 1992) as well as elderly adults (Dykstra, 1995) indicates that some people remain satisfied with their lives despite not having a confidant or dense social support network. Such individuals may have lower or more realistic relationship standards that protect them from distress. On the other hand, people with high relationship standards appear particularly vulnerable to dissatisfaction and loneliness when close relationships are lacking. Bondevik and Skogstad (1996) found that loneliness was not related to contact with children, grandchildren, family, or friends in their sample of 80+ year old users of public health care services. They suggested that elderly people may develop more realistic attitudes toward social contact that allow them to remain happy regardless of whether they have a close partner or receive a lot of social support from their networks. The Present Study This investigation sought to examine the association between social support from various sources and psychosocial problems, and how these associations vary over the life span. The psychosocial problems considered in this study include loneliness and depression. Each of these problems is pervasive throughout all stages of adulthood (Kessler et al., 1994; Roscoe & Skomski, 1989), each is strongly associated with interpersonal difficulties (Segrin, 1998), and each has been the subject of considerable interest among those who work with young adults (Medora & Woodward, 1986) and the elderly (Dugan & Kivett, 1994; Wagner, Schutze, & Lang, 1999). Both socioemotional selectivity theory and the theory of evolutionary psychology predict that desired sources of social support should change over the life span, with friend social support being particularly valuable to young

Authors: Segrin, Chris.
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Age Moderates
9
network members over the life span, as specified in socioemotional sensitivity theory, may
be manifest in relationship standards. Research on unmarried middle-aged adults (Burnley
& Kurth, 1992) as well as elderly adults (Dykstra, 1995) indicates that some people remain
satisfied with their lives despite not having a confidant or dense social support network.
Such individuals may have lower or more realistic relationship standards that protect them
from distress. On the other hand, people with high relationship standards appear
particularly vulnerable to dissatisfaction and loneliness when close relationships are
lacking. Bondevik and Skogstad (1996) found that loneliness was not related to contact
with children, grandchildren, family, or friends in their sample of 80+ year old users of
public health care services. They suggested that elderly people may develop more realistic
attitudes toward social contact that allow them to remain happy regardless of whether they
have a close partner or receive a lot of social support from their networks.
The Present Study
This investigation sought to examine the association between social support from
various sources and psychosocial problems, and how these associations vary over the life
span. The psychosocial problems considered in this study include loneliness and
depression. Each of these problems is pervasive throughout all stages of adulthood (Kessler
et al., 1994; Roscoe & Skomski, 1989), each is strongly associated with interpersonal
difficulties (Segrin, 1998), and each has been the subject of considerable interest among
those who work with young adults (Medora & Woodward, 1986) and the elderly (Dugan &
Kivett, 1994; Wagner, Schutze, & Lang, 1999). Both socioemotional selectivity theory and
the theory of evolutionary psychology predict that desired sources of social support should
change over the life span, with friend social support being particularly valuable to young


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