Although the relationship between social relationships and mental health is well established, debate continues about the relative importance of specific sources (spouses, children, relatives, friends) as well as of positive and negative interactions. The authors examined the associations of positive, negative, and ambivalent interactions with life satisfaction and depressive symptoms for spouses, children, relatives, and friends, using data from the 2008 Health and Retirement Study (N = 6,418). The findings generally showed positive associations between positive interactions and mental health and negative associations between negative or ambivalent interactions and mental health. These associations were most pronounced for relationships with spouses and children. Gender differences were found in life satisfaction but not in depressive symptoms. These results imply that future research on older adults needs to consider both positive and negative relationship features from diverse sources separately and in combination to disentangle their relative effects and their additive or compensatory potential.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2016 Journal of Marriage and Family.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)