Advertisement

Current Psychology

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 229–236 | Cite as

Social isolation and gender

  • Debra Vandervoort
Article

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.

Key words

gender social support social isolation 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Anderson, S. M. & Bern, S. L. (1981). Sex typing and androgyny in dyadic interaction: Individual differences in responsiveness to physical attractiveness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 41, 74–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Antonucci, T. C. } & Akiyama, H. (1987). An examination of sex differences in social support in mid and late life. Sex Roles, 17, 737–749.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barbee, A. P., Gulley, M. R. } & Cunningham, M. R. (1990). Support seeking in personal relationships. Special Issue: Predicting, activating and facilitating social support. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 7, 531–540.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Belle, D. (1987). Gender differences in the social moderators of stress. In R. C. Barnett, L. Biener & G. K. Baruch (Eds.), Gender and stress (pp. 257–277). New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  5. Berkman, L. F. (1985). The relationship of social networks and social support to morbidity and mortality. In S. Cohen &S. L. Syme (Eds.), Social support and health. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  6. Berkman, L. F. & Syme, S. L. (1979). Social networks, host resistance, and mortality: A nine year followup study of the Alameda County residents. American Journal of Epidemiology, 115, 684–694.Google Scholar
  7. Berkman, L. F., Vaccarino, V. & Seeman, T. (1993). Gender differences in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality: The contributions of social networks and support. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 15, 112–118.Google Scholar
  8. Blazer, D. (1982). Social support and mortality in an elderly community population. American Journal of Epidemiology, 115, 684–694.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Buhrke, R. A. & Fuqua, D. R. (1987). Sex differences in sameand cross-sex supportive relationships. Sex Roles, 17, 339–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Crowne, D. P. & Marlowe, D. (1964). The approval motive: Studies in evaluative dependence. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  11. Deaux, K. (1976). The behavior of women and men. Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole.Google Scholar
  12. Flaherty, J. & Richman, J. (1989). Gender differences in the perception and utilization of social support: Theoretical perspectives and an empirical test. Social Science and Medicine, 28,1221–1228.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Freud, S. (1964). An outline of psychoanalysis. In Standard edition (Vol. 23). London: Hogarth. (First German edition, 1940).Google Scholar
  14. Glenn, N. (1975). The contribution of marriage to the psychological well-being of males and females. Journal of Marriage and Family, 37, 594–601.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Helsing, K. J. & Szklo, M. (1981). Mortality after bereavement. American Journal of Epidemiology, 114, 41–52.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. House, J. S., Robbins, C. & Metzner, H. L. (1982). The association of social relationships and activities with mortality: Prospective evidence from the Tecumseh Community Health Study. American Journal of Epidemiology, 116, 123–140.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Kessler, R. C, McLeod, J. D. & Wethington, E. (1985). The costs of caring: A perspective on the relationship between sex and psychological distress. In I. G. Sarason & B. R. Sarason (Eds.), Social support: Theory, research and applications (pp. 491–506). Boston: Martinus Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  18. Lowenthal, M. F. & Haven, C. (1968). Interaction and adaptation: Intimacy as a critical variable. American Sociological Review, 33, 20–30.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Maccoby, E. E. & Jacklin, C. N. (1974). The psychology of sex differences. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Maslow, A. (1970). Motivation and personality (2nd Ed.). New York: Harper and Roe.Google Scholar
  21. Newman, J. P. (1986). Gender, life strain, and depression. Journal of Social Behavior, 27,161–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Orth-Gomer, K. & Johnson, J. V. (1987). Social network interaction and mortality: A six year followup study of a random sample of the Swedish population. Journal of Chronic Diseases, 40, 949–957.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Pearlin, L. I. & Johnson, J. S. (1977). Marital status, life strains, and depression. American Sociological Review, 42, 704–715.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Powers, E. & Bultena, G. (1976). Sex differences in intimate friendships in old age. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 38, 739–747.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Richey, M. H. & Richey, H. W. (1980). The significance of best-friend relationships in adolescence. Psychology in the Schools, 17, 536–540.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Rogers, C. R. (1980). A way of being. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  27. Rogers, C. R. (1961). On becoming a person. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  28. Sarason, B. R., Sarason, I. G., Hacker, T. A. & Basham, R. B. (1985). Concomitants of social support: Social skills, physical attractiveness, and gender. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 49, 469–480.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Schoenbach, V., Kaplan, B.H., Fredman, L. & Kleinbaum, D. (1986). Social ties and mortality in Evans County, Georgia. American Journal of Epidemiology, 123, 577–591.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Shumaker, S. A. & Hill, D. R. (1991). Gender differences in social support and physical health. Health Psychology, 10, 102–111.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Solomon, L. J. & Rothblum, E. D. (1986). Stress, coping, and social support in women. Behavior Therapist, 9,199–204.Google Scholar
  32. Somers, A. R. (1981). Marital status, health, and the use of health services: An old relationship revisited. In P. Stein (Ed.), Single life: Unmarried adults in social contexts. New York: St. Martin's Press.Google Scholar
  33. Stokes, J. & Levin, I. (1986). Gender differences in predicting loneliness from social network characteristics. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 1069–1074.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Taylor, S. E. (1995). Health psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  35. Turner, H. A. (1994). Gender and social support: Taking the bad with the good? Sex Roles, 30, 521–541.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Vaux, A. (1988). Social support: Theory, research, and intervention. New York: Praeger.Google Scholar
  37. Vaux, A. (1985). Variations in social support associated with gender, ethnicity, & age. Journal of Social Issues, 41, 89–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Wheeler, L., Reis, H. & Nzlek, J. (1983). Loneliness, social interaction, and sex roles. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45, 983.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Wingard, D. L., Suarez, L. & Barrett-Conner, E. (1983). The sex differential in morality from all causes and ischemie heart disease. American Journal of Epidemiology, 117, 165–172.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Debra Vandervoort
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Hawaii at HiloUSA

Personalised recommendations