Differential associations between interpersonal variables and quality-of-life in a sample of college students



Humans are fundamentally social beings, and the relationships we form with others are crucial for our well-being. Research across a variety of domains has established the association between a variety of interpersonal factors and health outcomes, including quality-of-life. However, there is a need for a more integrative, holistic analysis of these variables and how they relate to one another.


Undergraduate students (n = 1456) from four universities across the United States completed self-report measures of their quality-of-life and a variety of interpersonal factors identified as important predictors across the literature. We examined zero-order correlations between these measures and quality-of-life, estimated a path model to look at unique variance accounted for by each, and finally used network analysis to examine the network of direct and indirect associations among these variables and quality-of-life.


Loneliness had the strongest association with quality-of-life across all analyses. When examining the unique association between quality-of-life and each interpersonal variable, six remained statistically significant: loneliness, social support, social connectedness, emotional intelligence, intimacy with one’s romantic partner, and empathic concern. These results were supported by the network model, which found direct associations between quality-of-life and these six variables as well as indirect associations with all other interpersonal variables in the model.


Results from this research suggest that interpersonal factors in general, and loneliness in particular, are strongly associated with quality-of-life. Future research is needed to establish the direction of these effects and examine for whom these findings are generalizable.

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Correspondence to Adam M. Kuczynski.

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Kuczynski, A.M., Kanter, J.W. & Robinaugh, D.J. Differential associations between interpersonal variables and quality-of-life in a sample of college students. Qual Life Res 29, 127–139 (2020) doi:10.1007/s11136-019-02298-3

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  • Interpersonal processes
  • Loneliness
  • Social isolation
  • Quality-of-life
  • Network analysis