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Journal Article

Interaction and Adaptation: Intimacy as a Critical Variable

Marjorie Fiske Lowenthal and Clayton Haven
American Sociological Review
Vol. 33, No. 1 (Feb., 1968), pp. 20-30
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2092237
Page Count: 11
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Interaction and Adaptation: Intimacy as a Critical Variable
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Abstract

This study is one of a series devoted to the analysis of the relation between adult socialization patterns and adaptation. Panel data collected for an older sample are drawn upon to document further the equivocal nature of this relationship when conventional measures of social role and interaction are compared with three different types of indicators of adaptation. The comparative importance, respectively, of social privilege and social deprivation for adaptation varies in accordance with the subjectivity of adaptive measure used. It also differs for self as compared with professional appraisals of well-being. Regardless of the overall pattern of these interrelationships, deviant cells are sizeable. The introduction of a variable bearing on the quality of social relationships, in this case the presence or absence of a confidant, helps considerably to explicate both sets of findings. The presence of an intimate relationship serves as a buffer both against gradual social losses in role and interaction and against the more traumatic losses accompanying widowhood and retirement. Age and sex differences may have implications for the differential in the survival rates of men and women, as well as for the relation between socialization patterns and adaptation at earlier stages of the lifespan.

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