The Scientific Study of People Who Are Single:
An Annotated Bibliography

Bella M. DePaulo
Chair, Academic Advisory Board of the Spectrum Institute
Research and Policy Division of the
American Association for Single People (AASP)

January 2, 2004


11. Relationships

Social Support

Who are the important people in the lives of people who are single? Studies of social support rarely address that question. There are many more general studies of social support, addressing questions such as: To whom do people turn when they need help? Who do they see as potentially available to them, whether they actually seek support from them or not? How satisfied are they with the support they do receive? Is social support really supportive of better health and well-being? Is it just as important to give as to receive social support? Perhaps especially important to the understanding of singles is the question of the depth and breadth of social support. Are single people less likely than married people to rely primarily on just one other person? If so, what are the implications for health and well-being across the lifespan? (See also the section on old age.) These kinds of questions have rarely been addressed.

Allen, K. R. (2000). Families in the middle and later years: A review and critique of research in the 1990s. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62, 911-926.

Antonucci, T. C., & Akiyama, H. (1987). An examination of sex differences in social support among older men and women. Sex Roles, 17, 737-749.

Antonucci, T. C., & Akiyama, H. (1987). Social networks in adult life and a preliminary examination of the convoy model. Journal of Gerontology, 42, 519-527. [still need to get this one]

Antonucci, T. C., & Jackson, J. S. (1987). Social support, interpersonal efficacy, and health: A life course perspective. In L. L. Carstensen & B. A. Edelstein (Eds.), Handbook of Clinical Gerontology (pp. 291-311). NY: Pergamon.

Barrett, A. E. (1999). Social support and life satisfaction among the never married. Research on Aging, 21, 46-72.

Beckman, L. J. (1981). Effects of social interaction and children’s relative inputs on older women’s psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 41, 1075-1086.

Berkman, L. F., & Syme, L. (1979). Social networks, host resistance, and mortality: A nine-year follow-up study of Alameda County residents. American Journal of Epidemiology, 109, 186-204.

Blazer, D. G. (1982). Social support and mortality in an elderly community population. American Journal of Epidemiology, 115, 684-694.

Bost, K. K., Cox, M. J., Burchinal, M. R., & Payne, C. (2002). Structural and supportive changes in couples’ family and friendship networks across the transition to parenthood. Journal of Marriage and Family, 64, 517-531.

Brown, S. L., Nesse, R. M., Vinokur, A. D., & Smith, D. M. (2003). Providing social support may be more beneficial than receiving it: Results from a prospective study of mortality. Psychological Science, 14, 320-327.

Brownell, A., & Shumaker, S. A. (1984). Social support: New perspectives in theory, research, and intervention. Part I. Theory and research. Journal of Social Issues, 40 (4). (Entire issue.)

Brownell, A., & Shumaker, S. A. (1985). Social support: New perspectives in theory, research, and intervention. Part II. Interventions and policy. Journal of Social Issues, 41 (1). (Entire issue.)

Bryant, C. M., & Conger, R. D. (1999). Marital success and domains of social support in long-term relationships: Does the influence of network members ever end? Journal of Marriage and the Family, 61, 437-450.

Cohen, S., Underwood, L. G., & Gottlieb, B. H. (Eds.) (2000). Social support measurement and intervention: A guide for health and social scientists. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Coyne, J. C., & DeLongis, A. (1986). Going beyond social support: The role of social relationships in adaptation. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 54, 454-460.

Field, D., & Minkler, M. (1988). Continuity and change in social support between young-old and old-old or very-old age. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 43, P100-106.

Gottlieb, B. H. (Ed.). (1981). Social networks and social support. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

Greenberger, E., & O’Neil, R. (1993). Spouse, parent, worker: Role commitments and role-related experiences in the construction of adults’ well-being. Developmental Psychology, 29, 181-197.

Kraaij, V., & Garnefski, N. (2002). Negative life events and depressive symptoms in late life: Buffering effects of parental and partner bonding? Personal Relationships, 9, 205-214.

Lamme, S., Dykstra, P. A., & Broese van Groenou, M. I. (1996). Rebuilding the network: New relationships in widowhood. Personal Relationships, 3, 337-349.

Longino, C. F. Jr., & Lipman, A. (1981). Married and spouseless men and women in planned retirement communities: Social support differentials. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 43, 169-177.

Lowenthal, M. F., & Haven, C. (1968). Interaction and adaptation: Intimacy as a critical variable. American Sociological Review, 33, 20-30. (Widowhood and retirement)

Lyons, R. F., Mickelson, K. D., Sullivan, M. J. L., & Coyne, J. C. (1998). Coping as a communal process. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 15, 579-605.

Matthews, A. M. (1991). The relationship between social support and morale: Comparisons of the widowed and never married in later life. Canadian Journal of Community, 10, 47-63.

Pinquart, M., & Sorensen, S. (2000). Influences of socioeconomic status, social network, and competence on subjective well-being in later life: A meta-analysis. Psychology and Aging, 15, 187-224.

Reis, H. T., Wheeler, L., Kernis, M. H., Spiegel, N., & Nezlek, J. (1985). On specificity in the impact of social participation on physical and psychological health. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 48, 456-471.

Riley, D., & Eckenrode, J. (1986). Social ties: Subgroup differences in costs and benefits. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 770-778.

Rook, K. S. (1987). Social support versus companionship: Effects on life stress, loneliness, and evaluations by others. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 1132-1147.

Ryan, R. M., & Solky, J. A. (1996). What is supportive about social support? On the psychological needs for autonomy and relatedness. In G. R. Pierce, B. R. Sarason, & I. G. Sarason (Eds.). Handbook of social support and the family (pp. 249-267). New York: Plenum.

Thoits, P. A. (1984). Explaining distributions of psychological vulnerability: Lack of social support in the face of life stress. Social Forces, 63, 453-481.

Uchino, B. N., Cacioppo, J. T., & Kielcolt-Glaser, J. K. (1996). The relationship between social support and physiological processes: A review with emphasis on underlying mechanisms and implications for health. Psychological Bulletin, 119, 488-531.

Umberson, D., Chen, M. D., House, J. S., Hopkins, K., & Slaten, E. (1996). The effect of social relationships on psychological well-being: Are men and women really so different? American Sociological Review, 61, 837-857.

Vaux, A. (1985). Variations in social support associated with gender, ethnicity, and age. Journal of Social Issues, 41, 89-110.

Wellman, B., & Wortley, S. (1990). Different strokes from different folks: Community ties and social support. American Journal of Sociology, 96, 558-588.

Wickrama, K. A. S., Lorenz, F. O., Wallace, L. E., Peiris, L., Conger, R. D. (2001). Family influence on physical health during the middle years: The case of onset of hypertension. Journal of Marriage and Family, 63, 527-539.


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