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Friendship networks and psychological well-being from late adolescence to young adulthood: A gender-specific structural equation modeling approach
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Health Equity Studies (CHESS).
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Health Equity Studies (CHESS).
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology. Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Health Equity Studies (CHESS).
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2016 (English)In: BMC Psychology, E-ISSN 2050-7283, Vol. 4, 34Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background

The importance of supportive social relationships for psychological well-being has been previously recognized, but the direction of associations between both dimensions and how they evolve when adolescents enter adulthood have scarcely been addressed. The present study aims to examine the gender-specific associations between self-reported friendship network quality and psychological well-being of young people during the transition from late adolescence to young adulthood by taking into account the direction of association.

Methods

A random sample of Swedes born in 1990 were surveyed at age 19 and again at age 23 regarding their own health and their relationships with a maximum of five self-nominated friends. The response rate was 55.3 % at baseline and 43.7 % at follow-up, resulting in 772 cases eligible for analysis. Gender-specific structural equation modeling was conducted to explore the associations between network quality and well-being. The measurement part included a latent measure of well-being, whereas the structural part accounted for autocorrelation for network quality and for well-being over time and further examined the cross-lagged associations.

Results

The results show that network quality increased while well-being decreased from age 19 to age 23. Females reported worse well-being at both time points, whereas no gender differences were found for network quality. Network quality at age 19 predicted network quality at age 23, and well-being at age 19 predicted well-being at age 23. The results further show positive correlations between network quality and well-being for males and females alike. The strength of the correlations diminished over time but remained significant at age 23. Simultaneously testing social causation and social selection in a series of competing models indicates that while there were no cross-lagged associations among males, there was a weak reverse association between well-being at age 19 and network quality at age 23 among females.

Conclusions

The study contributes to the understanding of the direction of associations between friendship networks and psychological well-being from late adolescence to young adulthood by showing that while these dimensions are closely intertwined among males and females alike, females’ social relationships seem to be more vulnerable to changes in health status.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 4, 34
Keyword [en]
Social network, Psychological well-being, Friendship network quality, Late adolescence, Young adulthood, Gender, Structural equation modeling, Two-wave panel data, Sweden
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-131095DOI: 10.1186/s40359-016-0143-2OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-131095DiVA: diva2:935898
Available from: 2016-06-13 Created: 2016-06-13 Last updated: 2016-08-10Bibliographically approved

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Miething, AlexanderAlmquist, Ylva B.Östberg, VivecaRostila, MikaelRydgren, Jens
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Department of SociologyCentre for Health Equity Studies (CHESS)
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BMC Psychology
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology

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