Applied Research in Quality of Life

, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 1411–1433 | Cite as

Impacts of Structural Social Capital and Cognitive Social Capital on the Psychological Status of Survivors of the Yaan Earthquake

  • Hung WongEmail author
  • Yunong Huang
  • Yao Fu
  • Yin Zhang


The Yaan earthquake occurred in April 2013, which measured 7.0 on the Richter scale, caused 196 people died, 11,470 injured and USD 6.9 billion economic loss. The Yaan area were also severely affected by the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008. This research examined the impacts of structural social capital (social association) and cognitive social capital on the psychological status (depression, life satisfaction) of survivors of the Yaan earthquake. Based on a survey of 495 respondents, structural equation models were constructed to test the mediation effects of cognitive social capital on the relationships between structural social capital, depression, and life satisfaction of respondents with disaster impact as a control variable. This study also examined the paths of impact of the three components of cognitive social capital (sense of community, trust, and social connectedness) on survivors’ psychological status. The findings indicated the following. 1) The disaster impact had negative effect on cognitive social capital (β = −.15, p < 0.05), but no effect on structural capital (β = −.06, n.s.); disaster impact also had positive effect on depression (β = .16, p < 0.01) and negative effect on life satisfaction (β = −.13, p < 0.05). 2) Structural social capital had positive effect on cognitive social capital (β = −.35, p < 0.001) and cognitive social capital had negative effect on depression (β = −.44, p < 0.001). Structural social capital had indirect effect but no direct effect on depression. The impact of structural social capital on depression was fully mediated by cognitive social capital. 3) Cognitive social capital had positive effect on life satisfaction (β = .44, p < 0.001). Structural social capital had indirect effect but no direct effect on life satisfaction. The impact of structural social capital on life satisfaction was fully mediated by cognitive social capital. 4) Sense of community has a positive effect on life satisfaction (β = .72, p < 0.05), but no effect on depression. 5) Trust has a negative effect on depression (β = −.41, p < 0.05), but no effect on life satisfaction. 6) Social connectedness has a negative effect on depression (β = −.16, p < 0.05), but no effect on life satisfaction. The research highlighted the importance of building and maintaining cognitive social capital in a community affected by disaster. It also makes recommendations for social workers to improve trust and social connectedness in the pre-disaster and disaster relief phases to buffer depression. After a disaster, it is recommended to facilitate a sense of community to improve the life satisfaction of survivors.


Disaster impact Structural social capital Cognitive social capital Sense of community Trust Social connectedness Depression Life satisfaction Disaster survivors 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that there is no potential conflicts of interest with the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life.

Ethical Approval

It is a research involving Human Participants and it gained ethic approval from the second author’s institution.

Informed Consent

The survey gained informed consent verbally from the respondents.


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© Springer Nature B.V. and The International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social WorkThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatinHong Kong, China
  2. 2.College of Education, Psychology & Social WorkAdelaideAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Social Work and Social AdministrationThe University of Hong KongShatinHong Kong, China
  4. 4.Department of JournalismHong Kong Baptist UniversityKowloon TongHong Kong, China

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