ERIC Number: EJ1021248
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Mar
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 37
Selective Narrowing of Social Networks across Adulthood is Associated with Improved Emotional Experience in Daily Life
English, Tammy; Carstensen, Laura L.
International Journal of Behavioral Development, v38 n2 p195-202 Mar 2014
Past research has documented age differences in the size and composition of social networks that suggest that networks grow smaller with age and include an increasingly greater proportion of well-known social partners. According to socioemotional selectivity theory, such changes in social network composition serve an antecedent emotion regulatory function that supports an age-related increase in the priority that people place on emotional well-being. The present study employed a longitudinal design with a sample that spanned the full adult age range to examine whether there is evidence of within-individual (developmental) change in social networks and whether the characteristics of relationships predict emotional experiences in daily life. Using growth curve analyses, social networks were found to increase in size in young adulthood and then decline steadily throughout later life. As postulated by socioemotional selectivity theory, reductions were observed primarily in the number of peripheral partners; the number of close partners was relatively stable over time. In addition, cross-sectional analyses revealed that older adults reported that social network members elicited less negative emotion and more positive emotion. The emotional tone of social networks, particularly when negative emotions were associated with network members, predicted daily emotional experience. These findings were robust after taking into account demographic variables and physical health. The implications of these findings are discussed in the context of socioemotional selectivity theory and related theoretical models.
Descriptors: Social Networks, Age Differences, Social Theories, Self Control, Longitudinal Studies, Prediction, Emotional Experience, Well Being, Models, Health, Aging (Individuals), Adults, Young Adults, Older Adults, Case Studies, Participant Characteristics, Regression (Statistics)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California