Social Network Size
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2021 ◽  
Vol 12 ◽  
Sara J. Czaja ◽  
Jerad H. Moxley ◽  
Wendy A. Rogers

Objectives: Social isolation and loneliness are serious public health issues given the association with negative physical, mental; and cognitive health outcomes and increased risk for mortality. Due to changes in life circumstances many aging adults are socially isolated and experience loneliness. We examined the relationships among four correlated but distinct constructs: social network size, social support, social isolation, and loneliness as they relate to indices of health and wellbeing among diverse subpopulations of older adults. Guided by WHO’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) we also examined factors that predict loneliness and social isolation.Methods: Analyses of baseline data from sample of older adults who participated in an intervention trial that examined the beneficial effects of a software system designed to support access to resources and information, and social connectivity. Participants included 300 individuals aged 65–98, who lived alone, were primarily of lower socio-economic status and ethnically diverse. Participants completed a demographics questionnaire, self-report measures of health, depression, social network size, social support, and loneliness.Results: Loneliness was strongly associated with depression and self-ratings of health. In turn, greater social isolation and less social support were associated with greater loneliness. Social isolation was associated with depression and lower self-ratings of health. The association between social isolation and health was mediated by loneliness. Individuals in the older cohorts (80+) reported less social support. With respect to loneliness, having a smaller social network, more functional limitations, and limitations in engaging meaningful activities was associated with higher levels of loneliness and greater social isolation.Conclusion: The findings underscore the importance of social connectively to wellbeing for older adults and suggest that those in the older cohorts, who have a small social network, and with greater physical and functional impairments may be particularly vulnerable to being socially isolated and lonely. The findings provide guidance for future interventions. In this regard, we discuss how Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) may be used to promote social connectivity and engagement. Strategies to make the usability and availability of these applications for aging adults are highlighted.

2021 ◽  
Vol 12 ◽  
Amy J. Lim ◽  
Clement Lau ◽  
Norman P. Li

Existing meta-analyses have shown that the relationship between social media use and self-esteem is negative, but at very small effect sizes, suggesting the presence of moderators that change the relationship between social media use and self-esteem. Employing principles from social comparison and evolutionary mismatch theories, we propose that the social network sizes one has on social media play a key role in the relationship between social media use and self-esteem. In our study (N = 123), we showed that social media use was negatively related to self-esteem, but only when their social network size was within an evolutionarily familiar level. Social media use was not related to self-esteem when people’s social networks were at evolutionarily novel sizes. The data supported both social comparison and evolutionary mismatch theories and elucidated the small effect size found for the relationship between social media use and self-esteem in current literature. More critically, the findings of this study highlight the need to consider evolutionarily novel stimuli that are present on social media to better understand the behaviors of people in this social environment.

Wesley Monroe Shrum ◽  
Jonathan Teye Yevuyibor ◽  
Shriya Thakkar

Prior research has shown that mental health in urban slums is associated with the a share number of older individuals in personal networks. This presentation will examine the extent to which that association is mediated through Internet and social media use. We conducted face to face interviews with residents (minimum 18 years) in two high density, low income areas of Accra (West Africa) and Trivandrum (Kerala, India), where local teams have conducted repeated studies of personal networks since 1994. Our preliminary results show that mobile phones are primary way in which respondents communicate with members of their core networks. Further preliminary results show that while research in high income areas has generally shown the importance of larger networks for positive mental health, our analysis of urban slums reveals a different pattern. First, there is no general association of larger networks with reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression. Second, one particular group of relationships is strongly associated with depression and anxiety: ties with older individuals. The questions we explore are: (1) To what extent are indicators of mental health related to indicators of Internet and social media usage? (2) To what extent are indicators of mental health related to indicators of social network size and composition? (3) To what extent are indicators of Internet and social media usage related to indicators of indicators of social network size and composition?

Ranmalee Eramudugolla ◽  
Katharine Huynh ◽  
Shally Zhou ◽  
Jessica G. Amos ◽  
Kaarin J. Anstey

Abstract Objective: Social cognition is impaired in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia. However, its relationship to social functioning and perceived social support has yet to be explored. Here, we examine how theory of mind (ToM) relates to social functioning in MCI and dementia. Methods: Older adults (cognitively normal = 1272; MCI = 132; dementia = 23) from the PATH Through Life project, a longitudinal, population-based study, were assessed on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET), measures of social functioning, and social well-being. The associations between RMET performance, social functioning, and cognitive status were analysed using generalised linear models, adjusting for demographic variables. Results: Participants with MCI (b=−.52, 95% CI [−.70, −.33]) and dementia (b=−.78, 95% CI [−1.22, −.34]) showed poorer RMET performance than cognitively normal participants. Participants with MCI and dementia reported reduced social network size (b=−.21, 95% CI [−.40, −.02] and b=−.90, 95% CI [−1.38, −.42], respectively) and participants with dementia reported increased loneliness (b = .36, 95% CI [.06, .67]). In dementia, poorer RMET performance was associated with increased loneliness (b=−.07, 95% CI [−.14, −.00]) and a trend for negative interactions with partners (b=−.37, 95% CI [−.74, .00]), but no significant associations were found in MCI. Conclusions: MCI and dementia were associated with poor self-reported social function. ToM deficits were related to poor social function in dementia but not MCI. Findings highlight the importance of interventions to address social cognitive deficits in persons with dementia and education of support networks to facilitate positive interactions and social well-being.

Melanie Meeker ◽  
Kimberly C. McCullough ◽  
Gary H. McCullough ◽  
Usenime Akpanudo

Purpose Social isolation is linked to cognitive decline and depression, which can be risk factors for developing dementia. The purpose of this study was to determine which of a variety of factors were associated with communicative participation as measured by social network size. Method Three hundred thirty-seven adults aged 65 years or older were administered assessments to evaluate social network size, cognition, hearing handicap, and quality of communicative participation. Results Cognition, education, living setting, and quality of communication life were associated to varying degrees with the construct of communicative participation as measured by social network size. Conclusion Assessment of these variables, along with early identification of cognitive decline, could play an important role in identifying elderly individuals at risk for limitations in communicative participation and associated consequences.

Thomas Brijoux ◽  
Michael Neise ◽  
Susanne Zank

Abstract Background Experiences of abuse in relationships with an expectation of trust are a common phenomenon among older people and is called elder abuse (EA). This can take various forms, such as physical, verbal, emotional, psychological, financial, sexual abuse or neglect. Due to their high vulnerability and difficulties in receiving support, people aged over 80 years old have been pointed out as a group that needs special focus in research. Objective Prevalence, risk factors and consequences of EA for different aspects of quality of life are explored among the oldest old. Material and methods Computer-assisted personal interviews were conducted in a representative sample of the oldest old in North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany). 988 self-report interviews without third persons present of the NRW80+ study are used to assess EA with the help of the elder abuse and emotional consequences scale (EACS). The EACS describes EA in six dimensions that give a broad understanding of EA. Results Prevalence of experiences of EA within the last 12 months was 54.1%. In logistic regression, multimorbidity, lower functioning, age below 90 years, smaller social network size, and aggressive behaviorwere significant risk factors for EA. People experiencing EA showed less life satisfaction and autonomy and increased loneliness and depressive symptoms. Conclusion EA is prevalent among the oldest old. Serious consequences of EA on life results can be shown with a broad operationalization of EA. Future research should focus on a deeper understanding of reasons for EA and reflect on the relationship between and the perspectives of perpetrators and victims.

2021 ◽  
pp. 1-19
Pryanka Boerio ◽  
Emma Garavaglia ◽  
Alessandra Gaia

Abstract The demographic landscape of European countries is rapidly changing because of population ageing; in this context, societies are called to offer older people opportunities to age actively. Although ‘active ageing’ has been broadly explored, there is still room to further our knowledge on the individual conditions that may favour or hinder activity in later life. This study aims to contribute to the literature in this field by focusing on the role of social capital. Specifically, it explores, through logistic regression models, how social capital and changes in social capital are associated with engagement in, the initiation of and continued participation in various domains of activity: volunteering and charity work, active participation in political or community-related organisations, informal care-giving and paid work. The data analysed stem from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). We focused on people aged 55+ participating in Waves 4–6. The key findings are: (a) having a larger social network is positively associated with participation in and the initiation of activities; (b) receiving social support (rarely) may stimulate reciprocity and thus care-giving; and (c) an increase in social network size is positively associated with initiation and maintenance of activities during later life.

2021 ◽  
pp. 174702182110307
Shiri Lev-Ari

The way we process language is influenced by our experience. We are more likely to attend to features that proved to be useful in the past. Importantly, the size of individuals’ social network can influence their experience, and consequently, how they process language. In the case of voice recognition, having a larger social network might provide more variable input and thus enhance the ability to recognize new voices. On the other hand, learning to recognize voices is more demanding and less beneficial for people with a larger social network as they have more speakers to learn yet spend less time with each. This paper tests whether social network size influences voice recognition, and if so, in which direction. Native Dutch speakers listed their social network and performed a voice recognition task. Results showed that people with larger social networks were poorer at learning to recognize voices. Experiment 2 replicated the results with a British sample and English stimuli. Experiment 3 showed that the effect does not generalize to voice recognition in an unfamiliar language suggesting that social network size influences attention to the linguistic rather than non-linguistic markers that differentiate speakers. The studies thus show that our social network size influences our inclination to learn speaker-specific patterns in our environment, and consequently the development of skills that rely on such learned patterns, such as voice recognition.

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