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Mental Health, Social Relations, and Social Selection: A Longitudinal Analysis

Timothy P. Johnson
Journal of Health and Social Behavior
Vol. 32, No. 4 (Dec., 1991), pp. 408-423
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2137107
Page Count: 16
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Mental Health, Social Relations, and Social Selection: A Longitudinal Analysis
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Abstract

A wide body of literature documents the effect of social networks and social supports on mental health. Fewer studies, however, have examined the reciprocal effect of mental health on social relationships. This problem is examined using data from a national panel survey of adults aged 20-64. For the sample as a whole, support was found for a social selection process, since psychological distress predicted decreases in primary, but not secondary, social relationships. The extent of primary relationships also were found to be associated with subsequent distress, providing evidence that the relationship between mental health and social environment may be transactional. When examined separately by gender, males but not females were found to be vulnerable to the process of social selection, supporting the hypothesis that the expression of distress is less role-appropriate for men and therefore more likely to invite social sanctions. Social causation effects also were observed only among males.

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