On Specificity in the Impact of Social Participation on Physical and Psychological Health

Harry T. Reis*, Ladd Wheeler, Michael H. Kernis, Nancy Spiegel, John Nezlek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Although it has been suggested that social participation is likely to be beneficial for health and well-being, there is little research demonstrating specifically which aspects of socializing may be responsible. This study distinguishes specific components of social interaction and health and examines differential relationships among them. Three distinct categories of social participation variables were posited: quality, quantity, and social traits. It was hypothesized that health problems would be more frequent among persons with poor quality interaction. The only exception to this prediction was that illnesses that are socially communicated were expected to be more prevalent among persons with a greater quantity of social participation, regardless of quality. Results confirmed these predictions for females. For males, the pattern of results was more complex, in that masculinity and femininity influenced the manner in which symptoms were expressed. These results supported the notion that social relations have a specific impact on health, and that if research is to provide useful information for intervention, we must learn more about which specific aspects of social participation are beneficial as well as how this occurs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)456-471
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1985
Externally publishedYes


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