Friendship networks and psychological well-being from late adolescence to young adulthood : A gender-specific structural equation modeling approach
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
- Friendship network quality;
- Late adolescence
- Psychological well-being
- Structural equation modeling
- ISSN: 2050-7283
I earned my PhD from Stockholm University in 1999. Between 2002 and 2005 I was Torgny Segerstedt Pro Futura Fellow at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study at Uppsala University. I received my Docent-title in 2003, and was appointed Associate Professor at Stockholm University in 2004. From 2006 to 2008 I was Head of the Department of Sociology at Stockholm university. Before coming to Lund in 2012 I served as Full Professor of Sociology at Jacobs University, Bremen, Germany. I have been a fellow at Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (2004/05) and Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (2013).