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Impact of Social Support on Psychological Well-being

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Psychology
Wordcount: 1041 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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The overall focus of this essay is to develop an understanding on the significant impact social support has on psychological well-being.  This will therefore help further researchers understand an individual’s psychological well-being and how different types of social support can impact upon it. This essay will include how an individual’s mental and physical condition depends on a number of factors (Saraccui, 1997). The factors will include social support and the different types of social support an individual can receive. Evaluation of the effects of level of stress upon the support/well-being relationship suggests that social support has significant main effects, that it is most important in stressful circumstances, and that these relationships vary across social class groupings.

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Substantial disagreements have gathered on the role of social support in the stress process. Some theorists (Cassel, 1976; Cobb, 1976; Kaplan, Cassel, & Gore, 1977) have disputed that support acts only as a resistance factor; that is, support reduces, or buffers, the negative psychological impacts of exposure to negative life events and/or chronic difficulties, but support has no direct effects upon psychological symptoms when stressful circumstances are absent. Several studies confirm this buffering-only view of social support influences (Turner, 1983). Others (Thoits, 1982a, 1983c) have argued that lack of social support and changes in support over time are pressure in themselves, and as such needs to have direct influences upon psychological well-being, whether other stressful circumstances occur. Several studies now confirm this main effect view of social support influences (e.g., Andrews, Tennant, Hewson, & Vaillant, 1978; Aneshensel & Frerichs, 1982; Lin, Ensel, Simeone, & Kuo, 1979; Thoits, 1983b; Turner, 1981; Williams, Ware, & Donald, 1981). These studies report a contrary association between measures of support and indicators of psychological disturbance, and no stress-buffering effects at all.

The study of social support and its relationship to personality, health, and adjustment is one of the fastest growing areas of research and application in psychology. “Social Support: An Interactional View” broadly reviews current research and theory on this topic, including coverage of such specific issues as: personality development and social support; the cultural context of social support; the role of social support in stress-coping; social support and personal relationships. In wide spectrum “Social Support: An Interactional View” contains combining surveys of clinical and field studies, experimental investigations, and life-span explorations. New statistical techniques applicable to research in social support are also presented in easily accessible terms.
In this review of the field, social support appears as a construct that involves interaction among multiple determinants. Social determinants such as adverse early experiences can affect the developing brain and lead to mental health problems over time. Research on sexual abuse survivors has shown smaller hippocampal volume among adults with post traumatic distress disorder, borderline personality disorder and depression (Bremner et al. 1997).

Throughout, social support is approached not as cure-all, but as an important facet of interpersonal relationships which has undesirable, as well as positive, features.

Research has demonstrated the importance of having a strong social support network and the link between social relationships and many different aspects of health and wellness. For instance, the schooling environment is important for the development of self-esteem or confidence and leading to positive health behaviour (Currie et al. 2012). Other researchers have found that students who perceive their school as supportive often engage in positive health behaviours and report high levels of life satisfaction (Roberts et al. 2004). This suggests that the schooling environment which provides a form of secondary socialisation plays a crucial role in the development and maintenance of a child’s mental health. Furthermore, regular communication with family and peers can also lead to positive health benefits. Research has shown that children who report ease of communication with their parents are less likely to report physical and psychological complaints (Woodward et al. 2003). Research has also shown that adolescents who report having positive peer relationships and friendships are more likely to have better perceived wellbeing (Moreno et al. 2009). This is because peer relations during adolescence support the development of establishing self-esteem and autonomy (Currie et al. 2012).  However, peer relations can also lead to maladaptive health behaviours. Researchers have shown a positive correlation between peer pressure and the consumption of alcohol among a sample of adolescents (Simons-Morton et al. 2001). Qualitative research conducted by Karimi-Shahanjarini et al (2010) showed how Iranian females were more likely to identify peer pressure as one of the main reasons for their unhealthy snacking

  • Thoits, P. A. (1985, January 01). Social Support and Psychological Well-Being: Theoretical Possibilities. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-94-009-5115-0_4
  • Bremner, J. D., Elzinga, B., Schmahl, C., & Vermetten, E. (2008). Structural and functional plasticity of the human brain in posttraumatic stress disorder. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3226705/
  • Courtois, R., Réveillère, C., Paus, A., Berton L., & Jouint, C. (2007). Links between stressors, mental health and the use of tobacco and alcohol in preadolescence. The Brain, 33 (3), 300-309
  • Currie, C. (2012). Social determinants of health and well-being among young people. World Health Organisation Regional OGce for Europe


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