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Social isolation and gender

Abstract

This study investigated the relationship between gender and social support. It was found that men were more isolated than women although there were no gender differences in perceived adequacy (i.e., satisfaction with one's social support network) or network size. Given that both the adequacy and network size variables were associated with socially desirable responding but the isolation variable was not, the results suggest that the behaviorally oriented indicator of isolation was a better measure of the degree of social isolation than traditional subjective scales currently used by many researchers. This suggests that traditional measures of social support that incorporate the dimensions of network size and perceived adequacy of one's social support system need to control for socially desirable responding and that measures can and need to be developed that are not significantly influenced by this response set bias. Hence, the assessment of social support may need to be more multifaceted than is currently undertaken in many studies. Our finding that men reported being more isolated than women may be a function, in part, of the fact that the majority of the sample (76.7%) was single/did not live with a partner. Previous research has found that men generally get their emotional needs met by their spouses/partners while women often get their emotional needs met by their female friends. Consistent with the literature, and given that most of our respondents were single, this study supports the contention that men are generally more socially isolated than women because they do not create adequate emotional intimacy when they are not in partnership with a significant other.

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Correspondence to Debra Vandervoort.

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Vandervoort, D. Social isolation and gender. Curr Psychol 19, 229–236 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-000-1017-5

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Key words

  • gender
  • social support
  • social isolation