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Effects of social exchange on health symptoms in university students

7 December 2007


It is generally agreed that social support is beneficial to physical and psychological health. However, there is evidence suggesting that social relationships may have both positive and negative influences on physical and psychological well-being. In a significant deviation from the bulk of social support literature, one study found that negative social interactions have a greater impact on health than do positive social interactions. The current investigation attempted to replicate this finding using a different measure of social support. Data were obtained from a sample of 78 graduate and undergraduate students at a small private university. The authors found that negative social interaction was a stronger predictor of physical symptoms than positive social interaction. However, psychological distress was found to be the strongest predictor of , physical symptoms and the only predictor of psychological well-being. Significant gender differences were found. Women reported significantly greater social networks and significantly more negative social interactions than men did. Additionally, negative social interactions and psychological distress only predicted health symptoms in women. No significant predictors of physical and mental health were found for men.


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