Clarifying the links between social support and health: Culture, stress, and neuroticism matter
The Relationship Between Social Support and Physiological Processes: A Review With Emphasis on Underlying Mechanisms and Implications for Health. Background Seafarers have reported impaired health and health-related quality of life (HRQOL). Social support might increase HRQOL, but. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between social support and health outcome variables, and the effect size of social support on health.
We considered three such factors. Considerable evidence indicates that cultures vary in the degree to which independence or interdependence is normatively sanctioned and used to organize daily practices and meanings Kitayama and Uskul, ; Markus and Kitayama, In western cultures, including the US society, independence of the self from others is highly sanctioned.
In contrast, in East Asian cultures, especially in Japan, Korea, and China, interdependence of the self with others is strongly sanctioned. In this cultural context, support is likely to highlight the culturally endorsed and validated state of interdependence and, as a consequence, may be expected to entail less emotional cost. For example, if friends or family members are willing to provide the support one needs, the person may feel assured that he or she is succeeding in the task of interdependence.
Thus, the support—health linkage would be stronger and more positive for Asian than for American adults. Our second factor relates to perceived stress on the part of support recipients. Our analysis starts with an observation that, while perceived support is generally more norm-congruous in Asian cultures, it can sometimes be troubling even for Asians. Kim and colleagues have argued that, especially in Asian, interdependent cultural contexts, recipients of social support sometimes worry that they may be causing troubles for the support-providers.
Accordingly, the linkage between perceived support and health might only become positive if Asians are protected from this particular type of worry associated with receiving support. We anticipated that Asians would feel less worry if the support they received was necessary and, thus, its receipt was seen as justified. Miller and Bersoff found that especially in Asian contexts, interpersonal support is viewed as a moral obligation when there is a need for it.
Such a need is obviously present when individuals are facing life difficulties and thus are stressed. It was thus predicted that the positive association between perceived support and health would be most strongly evident among Asians who reported high levels of stress, thereby justifying the support they were receiving.
While Americans may also be concerned when they receive support, the nature of the concern they experience may be very different from the concern Asians experience.
Because Americans tend to be more independent rather than interdependent, what they worry about may have less to do with the potential impositions they place on the support providers; instead, they may worry more about the likelihood that the need for support is an indication of their own perceived incompetence or inefficacy Bolger and Amarel, In other words, the receipt of support, even when confronted with high levels of stressful life events, may still signal a loss of independence and competence.
Accordingly, we predicted that the linkage between perceived support and health would be less strongly evident among Americans regardless of their levels of perceived stress. Third, beyond the influence of cultural norms and life stress, whether social support is beneficial for health may vary depending on individual-level factors.
Here, we focused on one particular facet of personality, neuroticism. Evidence is quite strong that neurotic people are attuned to negative emotional information e.
Eysenck, ; Gray, because they carry negative interpretive cognitive schemas e. Loo, ; Roberts and Kendler, It would follow, then, that neuroticism would sensitize people to potential costs associated with receipt of social support. We may thus predict that neuroticism will diminish any sustained benefits of support, thereby dampening the strength of the potentially positive relationship between perceived support and health Karney and Bradbury, The converse of this logic is that the relationship between perceived support and health would be more positive for those who are relatively low in neuroticism.
For the present analyses, we used a large comparative survey of Japanese and American adults to test the above hypotheses. The initial social support given is also a determining factor in successfully overcoming life stress. The presence of social support significantly predicts the individual's ability to cope with stress. Knowing that they are valued by others is an important psychological factor in helping them to forget the negative aspects of their lives, and thinking more positively about their environment.
Social support not only helps improve a person's well-being, it affects the immune system as well. Thus, it also a major factor in preventing negative symptoms such as depression and anxiety from developing. The social support and physical health are two very important factors help the overall well-being of the individual. A general theory that has been drawn from many researchers over the past few decades postulation that social support essentially predicts the outcome of physical and mental health for everyone.
First, they would look at the amount of attachment provided from a lover or spouse. Second, measuring the level of social integration that the individuals involved with, it usually comes from a group of people or friends. Third, the assurance of worth from others such as positive reinforcement that could inspires and boosts the self-esteem.
Relations Between Social Support and Physical Health
The fourth criterion is the reliable alliance support that provided from others, which means that the individual knows they can depend on receiving support from family members whenever it was needed. Fifth, the guidance of assurances of support given to the individual from a higher figure of person such as a teacher or parent.
The last criterion is the opportunity for nurturance. It means the person would get some social enhancement by having children of their own and providing a nurturing experience. This paper organizes studies of social support into three age-appropriate categories- adolescents, middle-aged adults, and older adults. For example, an experiment related to social support and physical health that empathizes cancer is assigned to the older adult category.
If the specific area of concern can be applied to everyone, then it is placed into middle-aged adult group for generalization purpose. After reviewing those studies and experiments, it should be clearly shown that social support is very important factor in determining the status of physical health, mental health, and immune system functioning for everyone. Adolescents Adolescents could develop some kinds of sensitive feelings, which may impact on their health if they do not get adequate social attention from others.
They may become involved in an unfortunate situation that makes them feel overwhelmed or awkward. The adolescent is still developing, could easily experience some strain to their emotion if no help is immediately available. Anxiety and depression are two main psychological disorders that often can be seen among the adolescents.
Family and Peer Support For adolescents, family support is the most important element in their lives. As part of their growth experience, adolescents usually expect a lot of things from their parents.
Inadequate support from the parents will likely increase the chance of getting depression among adolescents who get into unfortunate situation with their parents. Beside family support, peer support also is very important factor for adolescents. Children can expect a lot from their friends.
Peer support can be considered as an alternate method of getting social support if the adolescents receive inadequate attention from their parents.
This social support method is not as reliable as family support because young children could easily withdraw from their own friends if they become depressed. Another problem arises in this area, when the depressed students isolate themselves from public gatherings. This would prevent those suffering adolescents from getting any social support at all Stice et al.
Receiving social support is very essential for adolescents to become successful with themselves and achieve a satisfactory level at school. Gifted Adolescents Gifted adolescents also can encounter plenty of problems if they do not get adequate social support. In some cases, intelligent students are sent to residential schools that offer special programming for students who are gifted in math and science. Oftentimes, the family support would be severely limited for those adolescents, because the residential school usually lies far away from home.
Association between social support and health outcomes: a meta-analysis.
This kind of schooling is a totally new experience for gifted students, because they are living in the dormitory. Normally, students would experience the dormitory living for the first time when they go to college. At those ages, students are looking forward to seeking independence from their parents. Gifted adolescents usually have to rely on counselors and peers at the school. The counselors usually help those students to ease the transition from home to a residential living situation.
In contrast to students who attend regular school, there is a better chance for those gifted students to experience emotional well-being, be in a good physical health, and have a good immune system as long as adequate social support can be provided at the school to prevent or lessen the chance for those people from getting depressed Dunn et al. Middle-Aged Adults The importance of social support continues well into adulthood for everyone.
It would benefit a person's general health and immune systems, regardless of whether or not they have a lot of stress. The social contact, familial support, and involvement with leisure activities have significantly demonstrated a relationship with lowering of blood pressure. Contact among family members is the best method of reliving stress.
The fellowship among friends is adequate, but not as powerful as family. Strangers have a negative effect on reducing blood pressure. In one study cited in Uchino's article, the individual with many siblings and experiencing low stress was found to be the best possible combination for lowering the blood pressure.
Health Many studies indicate that anyone who has high social support tends to have less chance of getting depression and anxiety disorders. In contrast, only a handful of studies show that there is no relationship between social support and lowering the blood pressure. The level of social support also has been found to be related to a lower rate of disease and early death. The familial support is a psychological enhancement to help the individual reduce their stress.
These findings are somewhat weak and further studies need to be done to gather more specific information about the influence of social support on physical health Uchino et al. There is a significant relation between emotions and health. Anyone who has positive emotion and beliefs is likely to enhance their physical health. As expected, being in a good mood will cause refreshed mind to relieve some of the stresses.
Laughing is said to have a good deal of influence on reducing or forgetting about the hassles of daily life. Personality Type There are some aggressive adults living in our society. This would probably mean those adults are diagnosed with Type A personality.
Anger, aggressiveness, and hostility are the common characteristics of this type of personality. These are unhealthy personality traits, which could adversely affect the general health of those adults. There is no scientific evidence yet, but researchers have suggested a general hypothesis that low social support may cause Type A personality.
The researchers also revealed a strong relationship between social support and the absence of coronary heart diseases. More social support would soothe the individuals with Type A personality, leading to better physical health, thus reducing the risk of developing coronary heart diseases.
Socioeconomic Status One's socioeconomic status also is a major factor in whether or not an individual gets enough social support. The socioeconomic status is the measurement of level of income each person has to determine their level of economic status in our society.
For example, if the specified person's income is rather low, compared to nationally average, that person would be considered as a part of the low socioeconomic status. As expected, anyone who comes from a lower socioeconomic class would be more likely to receive less social support. They basically do not have enough resources in their environment available to assist with social support.
Clarifying the links between social support and health: Culture, stress, and neuroticism matter
The individuals with low socioeconomic status also tend to have less self-control. Consequently, they become more sensitive to stressors in their environment and less able to control their reactions. It means those adults would trigger some frustrations when they face any kind of stress. Unfortunately, the social strain, which is common in their daily lives, increases the risk for lower social class individuals to develop some kinds of physical and mental illness or a lower sense of well-being.
Mothers of Children With Disabilities Mothers with children who have permanent and chronic diseases usually become overwhelmed with all of the demands. They often feel burdened because it takes too much responsibility to take care of disabled children and meet such social demands as work at same time. Hope and good social support are very important elements to help reinforce those affected mothers. Hope serves as a psychological factor and social support serves as a comfort factor.
As mentioned above, by thinking positively, hope should be able to take away the affected mothers' obsessions and make them think about something else for better.