Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Mathew Gayman

Second Advisor

Erin Ruel

Third Advisor

Eric Wright

Abstract

ABSTRACT

Research Questions: How do levels of perceived support within dyadic social networks interact to predict mental health outcomes for both network members? I examine whether one’s significant other’s level of perceived social support moderates the relationship between one’s own perceived social support and one’s own depressive and anxiety symptoms. I also consider whether stress may moderate the support-mental health relationship.

Method: I use Actor-Partner Interdependence Modeling investigate how each respondent’s own perceived social support and each respondent’s significant other’s perceived social support predict each respondent’s levels of depressive and anxiety symptoms. I use a sample of 982 respondent dyads, as well as a subsample of 450 intimate partner dyads to investigate these relationships.

Results: Among intimate partner dyads, each partner’s level of perceived support is negatively associated with each partner’s level of depressive and anxiety symptoms. Perceiving that one is highly supported by one’s intimate partner predicts lower levels of depressive and anxiety symptoms. This relationship is stronger when one’s intimate partner also perceives that they are highly supported. Stress moderates the relationship between one’s own social support and depressive and anxiety symptoms, but not the relationship between one’s significant other’s social support and depressive anxiety symptoms.

Conclusions: In the context of intimate partner relationships, both the support a person receives from his or her partner and the support that person provides to his or her partner is associated with that person’s levels of depressive and anxiety symptoms. Thus, while it is beneficial for a person to receive high levels of support, it is better to give and to receive.

Available for download on Thursday, April 18, 2019

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