Happy but unhealthy: The relationship between social ties and health in an emerging network
Howell, Jenny × Koudenburg, Namkje Loschelder, David Weston, Dale Fransen, Katrien De Dominicis, Stefano Gallagher, Stephen Haslam, Alex #
European Journal of Social Psychology vol:44 issue:6 pages:612-621
Social connections are essential to health and wellbeing. However, when pursing social acceptance, people may sometimes engage in behavior that is detrimental to their health. Using a multi-time point design, we examined whether the structure of an emerging network of students in an academic summer school program correlated with their physical health and mental wellbeing. Participants who were more central in the network typically experienced greater symptoms of illness (e.g., cold/flu symptoms), engaged in riskier health behaviors (e.g., binge drinking), and had higher physiological reactivity to a stressor. At the same time, they were happier, felt more efficacious, and perceived less stress in response to a strenuous math task. These outcomes suggest that social ties in an emerging network are associated with better mental wellbeing but also with poorer physical health and health behaviors.