Social Development, Friendship and Mate Selection
Overview of Social Relationships
1. Human need for affiliation (to be connected, validated and recognized)
- characteristics reflect the drive to be in a social group (e.g. cooperativeness, loyalty,
adherence to social norms/fear of rejection, distress at the end of a relationship)
2. Basic unit of social systems
3. Developmental reciprocities (key to development)
- Are reciprocal, each person pays attention to and responds to the behavior of the
- Are interdependent, the people in the relationship influence each other and
participate in activities over an extended period
- Since relationships are dynamic, a developmental change in one person, will have a
developmental change in the other (known as developmental reciprocities).
- Family ripple effects: “life event webs”, a change in one that affects the system (e.g.
4. Occur within a broad and evolving sociohistorical context (In the olden days it would
have been uncommon to get married at 35, but now it is okay).
5. Links between social relations, health and mortality
- Social interaction is such an important aspect of life that it was seen as the
- Health: you deal with stress better and live longer (especially with men, results
are varied in women).
- ** Living alone = a risk factor for poor patient prognosis
- Morality: they establish norms, are efficient and make you more protected
Great exam question: Who would have the best health outcome?
Answer: Roommates in a room recovering with the same condition rather than no roommates.
Rationale: Because of the desire to affiliate under threat, which includes:
1. Cognitive clarity- the need for information about the threat (the health condition)
2. Emotional comparison- the need to determine if one’s emotional response is accurate
3. Emotional support/ reassurance What is Social Support?
Consists of interpersonal interactions that provide:
1. Positive affect- admiration, respect, love
2. Affirmation- agreement with actions/statements, reassurance of worth
High quality social relationships involve a high level of social support
- Ensure to always look at context and culture.
- Some families need to have everyone present in order to make decisions.
Linked to psychological well-being, mental and physical health and longevity
- Reason: more support is linked to less stress. (since stress is linked to poorer health
outcomes, and impaired immunity).
** Word of caution from Heather: Make sure that you are able to assess this as a nurse. Make
sure to observe, talk and listen. Observe the communication practices of the patient and family.
Recognize those who are not ‘support people’.
Benefits of Social Networking Interventions
1. Quality of Life
- Decreasing social supports can have a negative life effect
- Chronic illness can be a cause of social supports falling apart.
- Social supports enhance perception of control
- Enhances self concept/efficacy
2. Mental Health
- Poor psychological health is related to negative relationships (care giving for
example, is not a reciprocal relationship; therefore, is linked to burn out)
- Increased social supports will lead to less rumination thinking.
- We gain information and assistance from others that aid in our self concept (culture,
history, sense of self from reassurance and life exposure)
- Supports recovery (alcoholism)
3. Physical Health
- Produces positive effects on Cardiovascular, endocrine and immune system
- May slow biological aging
- Both genders benefit from social supports, due to buffering the stress response
- Poor physical health undermines social interaction by:
- Reducing energy due to feeling down/depressed
- Limiting opportunities to maintain relationships
- Poor health can decrease ability for the person to remain in touch
with their social supports, limit the ability to set the location/timing,
which ultimately can reduce the reciprocal nature of the relationship Convoy Model
An Individual is enmeshed in a social network of emotionally close others that moves with
the person throughout life.
Convoy building may develop in early adolescence and young adulthood
- As you develop, you get more relationships (as you pick your ‘convoy’)
- When you are young, you have more ‘trucks’ around you than at any other time.
- As you get older you ‘prune’ your contacts (inner circle gets smaller)
- Gets limited to family, close friends
Convoys are chosen by the early 30s
Socioemotional selectivity theory
- Determine who makes the cut or not, which is based on maximizing social/emotion
gains and minimizing risks
Gender and cultural influences
- This impacts the size of your network
- Women: have larger networks, with more family in it.
- Evolutionary: linked to survival to have larger networks and to keep the
- Culture: Collectivist vs Individualist
Functional Specificity of Relationships Model
Suggests that relationships tend to become specialized in terms of the kinds of functions
they serve in an individual’s life
- Not one person can meet all your needs. Some are finances, emotional, tutoring
Social networks are continually evolving
Equity Theory of Social Interaction
Suggests that individuals attempt to maintain relationships that are fair and just.
- Learn to cut people out that do not accomplish this.
- I.E. Husband and wife: not about immediate balancing of the chequebook, but upon
Relationship orientation- determine who does what.
Females have more of a communal orientation
- Are socialized to put other people first/ drop anything for another person.
- Are more linked to recover faster and take risks
- I.E. Husband had an MI 20 years ago, Wife just gets one, but is more worried about
the husband than herself.
Males have more of an exchange orientation
- Exchange the resources. Focus more on the cheques and balances.
- More apt to quit the ones that don’t get it. Impact of Early Experience on Adult Relationships
1. Attachment Theory (Bowlby /Freud): life span perspective
- Mother infant bond during the first 6 months- year, trust v. mistrust and intimacy v.
isolation (failure to develop would lead to isolation/self absorption)
- The actions in childhood impact the behavior of the adult
2. Behavioural System- ethology (bioevolutionary)
- Genetically determined behaviors which are carried forward due to its survival value
3. Attachment Behavioural System
- Universal to a species
- Provides proximity between infant and mother, enhancing protection/survival
- Programmed to act in a way to draw the caregiver into a relationship
- The mother’s sensitivity will determine the quality of attachment
4. Affectional Bonds
- The degree of closeness/relatedness/ quality of attachment
- Characterized by a need to maintain proximity (distress when separated, grief with
5. Quality of Attachment
- Provides a safety net that the infant can run to when upset
- Provides security during exploration
- From this stems secure, anxious/ambivalent, and avoidant
6. Working Models:
- Poor working models do not mean you will definitively have negative outcomes or
- Anti working model: Can learn positive points and behaviors from other positive
Attachment Theory and Romantic Love
1. Secure Attachment Style (available & responsive parenting)
- Comfortable in your own skin, don’t worry about being abandoned/ people gravitate
2. Anxious/Ambivalent Attachment Style (inconsistent & inappropriate parenting)
- Parents gave and withdrew at different times; therefore children are left unsure of
the level of support
- Will fall intensely for people, but don’t believe it and are jealous/need constant
affirmations of intent (scare people away)
- Possessive, dependent and strong desire for commitment
3. Avoidant Attachment Style (unresponsive & rejecting parenting)
- Don’t trust people (avoid intimacy)
- Find anxious/ambivalent people to be overwhelming
Adult romantic love differs from infant attachment in that they are sexual and have reciprocal
care giving. Strengths and Limitations:
1. The different styles are too specific
2. Does not allow the fact that you may fall into more than one category
3. Could change categories as you age/develop or get life experience/circumstance
A voluntary association between equals who are high in similarity and whose primary
orientation in the relationship is toward enjoyment and personal satisfaction
- no enjoyment makes it easy to get rid of the friend.
Sociable systems motivate us towards friendships.
Why is Friendship Distinct From Other Social Relationships?
1. The role of friend is present from childhood to old age
- Is the major group for seniors (due to deaths and busy family)
2. It is voluntary and less regulated by societal and legal rules
- Who you marry may have to have a specific belief system/ religion, but friends can
be different than your values and that would be okay.
3. It is based on similarity
4. Oriented towards personal enjoyment and satisfaction
5. Trust is important as the relationship is voluntary
Characteristics of Friendship
Dynamic and Evolving
Casual and Close Friends
- Casual friends expend less emotion & conflict (won’t last)
- Close friends expend more emotion & conflict because they have more
interdependence and contact, with higher costs (leads to dissatisfaction)
Varies by Life Stage and Circumstances
Loss Later in Life May Be Especially Difficult
Different from Kin Relationships
Male Friendships are Based upon Shared Activities
- state that their spouse is the chief support
Female Friendships are Based upon Emotional Support
- state that friends are the best support, reports that women have less sense of being alone
Males + females = mixture of both emotional and enjoyment Leaving Home: Transition from the Family of Origin
- Psychologically leaving home is a major developmental task from childhood to
- Formation of adult identity and assumption of adult roles and responsibilities
- Period full of opportunities
- New trend shows the boomerang effect- where children return home.
- Signifies an incomplete transition
- Aging parent needs to care for child again (may be due to finances or going back
- In the 1950’s it was unheard of! Move out you are not allowed back in!
1. A crucial aspect of adult development
2. Successive hurdles (tests which filter who can still be considered or eliminated)
3. Principles of propinquity
- Do they live near you? Distance too far? Can’t maintain relationships that are not close
4. Repeated exposure effect
- See a person in same situations, there is a greater chance of mating (ie. Small towns)
5. Matching Hypothesis
- End up with same type of characteristics as themselves
- Traditional relations: women pick for money and men for attractiveness (biased results,
as trends are not based on curre