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Description: Are all social contacts more or less equal in terms of what they do for us? The study described in this article looked at the relationships between the frequency of several types of social contact and symptoms of depression among people over 50 years of age. What do YOU think they found?

Source: Today Health and Wellness

Date: October 6, 2015


Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Links: Article Links –

The Study:

You’ve probably heard mention of the positive relationship between social contact and well-being particularly in an aging population. It’s also the case of the use of social media has provided a potentially large increase in the opportunities for social connection. Given this, what would you expect to find in a current study examining the relationship between social contact and levels of depression within a particular population? The study described in this article, and referenced below, looked at precisely this question in a group of individuals over the age of 50. What they found was that only face to face contact was related to symptoms of depression; specifically more face-to-face contact was associated with lower depressive symptomatology scores in this group. It is interesting to try and think about why this might be the case.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why might face-to-face interaction as opposed to social media use, email or texting be associated with lower depression scores? What is it about face-to-face contact that promotes well-being?
  2. Given that the sample in this study is comprised entirely of adults over the age of 50, what questions, if any, does this give rise to when you think about whether or not the results of the study could be generalized across the entire population (all ages)?
  3. How might the results of the study be different if it had been conducted among a typical young adult undergraduate population? Or would you expect the results to be similar and why?

References (Further Reading):

Teo, A. R., Choi, H., Andrea, S. B., Valenstein, M., Newsom, J. T., Dobscha, S. K., & Zivin, K. (2015). Does Mode of Contact with Different Types of Social Relationships Predict Depression in Older Adults? Evidence from a Nationally Representative Survey. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. (link above).


McIntyre, E., Wiener, K. K., & Saliba, A. J. (2015). Compulsive Internet use and relations between social connectedness, and introversion. Computers in Human Behavior, 48, 569-574.


de Vries, D. A., Peter, J., de Graaf, H., & Nikken, P. (2015). Adolescents’ Social Network Site Use, Peer Appearance-Related Feedback, and Body Dissatisfaction: Testing a Mediation Model. Journal of youth and adolescence, 1-14.