Social Connections and Mental HealthSamantha J. HudranCapella UniversityAuthor NotePSYC-FP3520 Assessment 7-1Social Connections and Mental HealthConnectingHuman beings have a need and desire to belong and be part of a group, interacting with other individuals. People develop relationships with others, whether part of a bowling club, regular golf outings with fellow employees, romantic relationships, other social groups, and even Facebook connections CITATION Umb10 l 1033 (Umberson, 2010). The movie Cast Away demonstrates that need by the main character, Chuck Noland, stranded on a desert island, alone, creates a relationship with a ball named Wilson’.
Noland projects a persona upon the ball enabling him to have conversations with it. Noland even goes as far as drawing stick figures in order to have conversations with his girlfriend every night. Both items provide the needed sense of belonging he requires to keep his sanity in a place void of any real human interaction CITATION Rob00 l 1033 (Zemeckis, 2000).BelongingThe Hierarchy of Needs was developed by Abraham Maslow. Along with needing the basics of food and water to survive, social belonging is also a key to surviving CITATION Fra07 l 1033 (Franken, 2007).
A long-lasting and close relationship with another individual fills the need to belong socially. People need interaction with a significant other to afford them the opportunity to share their mutual concerns through a long-term relationship CITATION Bau14 l 1033 (Baumeister & Bushman, 2014). Lack of social interaction leads to loneliness which in tern can lead to detrimental health issues over time. The body needs to remain mentally healthy to maintain a physical health CITATION Fra07 l 1033 (Franken, 2007).Being part of society, as a principal of social psychology, requires interaction and connections in the community around us. Just like many animals, humans have the innate need to be accepted by others and to belong to maintain a healthy existence CITATION Bau14 l 1033 (Baumeister & Bushman, 2014). As we grow older, the more humans have the need for social interaction and relationships. Emlet & Moceri’s (2012) study confirmed this by concluding that as people get closer to death, the need and desire to belong socially also increases CITATION Eml02 l 1033 (Emlet & Moceri, 20102). Even in myself, I find that as I am approaching 50, I am reconnecting with people I knew in my late teens and early 20’s and vice versa for them.Research TargetTo understand how social connections play an important role in having a long and healthy life, Eraslan-Capan (2016) developed a study to understand the impact of this interaction on the human body and mind. Having an overall well-being which includes not only physical health, it includes a sense of belonging, good health, and overall life satisfaction CITATION Ear16 l 1033 (Earslan-Capan, 2016). The study also found that anxiety, low self-esteem, suicidal thoughts, and depression are a result of having very low social connections and interaction. These individuals were also found not to have a long-term relationship which resulted in psychological distress as well CITATION Ear16 l 1033 (Earslan-Capan, 2016). Research MethodEraslan-Capan (2016) sought to measure an individual’s social connectedness. To accomplish this, they came up with a Social Connectedness Scale. There were eight items on the scale, including I feel disconnected from the world around me and I catch myself losing all sense of connectedness with society as examples. For a response to the eight statements, there was a six-point answer system with six being strongly agree and one being strongly disagree. The study group consisted of 260 college students averaging 21 years in age. Of the 260 participants, 123 were male and 137 were female CITATION Ear16 l 1033 (Earslan-Capan, 2016). Research AnalysisTo analyze the results, the Beck Hopelessness Scale and Flourishing Scale was used to develop a correlation to social connectedness. Flourishing addresses the well-being of the person by indicating that the individual has a meaning to their lives and successfully built relationships that are supportive. Individuals that create or have pessimistic and negative thoughts when considering their current or future situation are defined as having hopelessness. Suicidal behavior, negative thoughts concerning the meaning of life, and depression are results of a person experiencing hopelessness CITATION Ear16 l 1033 (Earslan-Capan, 2016).Research Results As expected, flourishing correlated with a positive social connectedness while hopelessness correlated with a negative social connectedness. High scores on the Beck Hopelessness Scale and low scores on the Social Connectedness Scale indicated that the individual would be susceptible to lack of social support, experience depression, and develop anxiety towards social interactions CITATION Ear16 l 1033 (Earslan-Capan, 2016). Since the subjects were all college students that had left home to live on campus, they naturally had a higher stress level having to adjust to this new environment. It was found that the students that took advantage of and were active in the various student activities were afforded had strong bonds with their peers resulting in higher social and emotional support. Students with this higher social and emotional level, were also found to have a better academic performance than those that did not CITATION Ear16 l 1033 (Earslan-Capan, 2016).LimitationsAs with all studies, this study also had limitations. One limitation was the generality in which it correlated emotional, psychological, and promotion of social health. The subject group of the study all went to the same school and were of a very similar age and in relatively the same social situation. The study also only looked at a single point in time of the subjects and did not do any future follow up to see if the answers or situations of the participants had changed over time. A look into the future may have provided insight into the successful completion of their studies, obtaining employment after graduation, continued social connectedness or lack of any of the previous items. Researchers surmised without any hard facts or follow up that those who scored low were probably unlikely to have life goals or any motivation to obtains any goals they may have had at the time CITATION Ear16 l 1033 (Earslan-Capan, 2016).ConclusionIn order for humans to survive, they require a sense of belonging and social connections to others. Being part of the group and contributing to society are required as shown through the theories researched by Leary, Maslow, and Baumeister. All three provided a definite connection between one’s health and wellbeing to their level of social connectedness. Much higher health issues manifest themselves in individuals who are lacking social connectedness.References BIBLIOGRAPHY Baumeister, R. F., & Bushman, B. J. (2014). Social Psychology and Human Nature. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.Earslan-Capan, B. (2016). Social connectedness and flourishing: the mediating role of hopelessness. Universal Journal of Educational Research, 4(5), 933-940.Emlet, C., & Moceri, J. (20102). The importance of social connectedness in building age-friendly communities. Journal of Aging Research, 1-9.Franken, R. E. (2007). Human motivation (6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.Umberson, D. &. (2010). Social Relationships and Health: A Flashpoint for Health Policy. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 51(S), S54-S66.Zemeckis, R. (Director). (2000). Cast Away [Motion Picture].