Evidence has accumulated in recent years indicating that older adults' negative social exchanges with members of their social networks may be more consequential for well-being than positive exchanges with network members. Despite the mounting evidence that such negative exchanges detract substantially from well-being, relatively little is known about the factors that influence older adults' vulnerability to such exchanges. The proposed research project seeks to address this gap in knowledge by examining two complementary dimensions of vulnerability: exposure and reactivity.
The specific aims are: (1) To compare the prevalence and impact of positive vs. negative social exchanges, using an assessment strategy designed to produce comprehensive and maximally comparable measures of these two kinds of exchanges; (2) To investigate the role of social network characteristics, stressful life events, and individual differences as predictors of older adults' exposure to negative social exchanges; (3) To investigate the role of social network characteristics, and individual differences as predictors of older adults' reactivity to negative social exchanges. To achieve these aims, the investigators will conduct a longitudinal study of a representative sample of 875 noninstitutionalized, cognitively functional older adults. Study participants will be interviewed every six months, with interviews conducted in person at baseline and subsequent interviews conducted by telephone at 6, 12, 18, 24 and 30 months. The interviews will obtain detailed information about the participants' demographic characteristics, positive and negative social exchanges, stressful life events, and emotional health. This multi-wave study design will allow us to investigate the dynamics of older adults' positive and negative social network transactions before and after the occurrence of stressful life events.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Human Development and Aging Subcommittee 3 (HUD)
Program Officer
Elias, Jeffrey W
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University of California Irvine
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Rook, Karen S (2015) Social Networks in Later Life: Weighing Positive and Negative Effects on Health and Well-Being. Curr Dir Psychol Sci 24:45-51
Luong, Gloria; Charles, Susan T; Rook, Karen S et al. (2015) Age differences and longitudinal change in the effects of data collection mode on self-reports of psychosocial functioning. Psychol Aging 30:106-119
Rook, Karen S; Luong, Gloria; Sorkin, Dara H et al. (2012) Ambivalent versus problematic social ties: implications for psychological health, functional health, and interpersonal coping. Psychol Aging 27:912-23
Okun, Morris A; August, Kristin J; Rook, Karen S et al. (2010) Does volunteering moderate the relation between functional limitations and mortality? Soc Sci Med 71:1662-8
Sorkin, Dara H; Rook, Karen S; Heckhausen, Jutta et al. (2009) Predicting changes in older adults' interpersonal control strivings. Int J Aging Hum Dev 69:159-80
Newsom, Jason T; Mahan, Tyrae L; Rook, Karen S et al. (2008) Stable negative social exchanges and health. Health Psychol 27:78-86
Okun, Morris A; Pugliese, John; Rook, Karen S (2007) Unpacking the Relation between Extraversion and Volunteering in Later Life: The Role of Social Capital. Pers Individ Dif 42:1467-1477
Mavandadi, Shahrzad; Rook, Karen S; Newsom, Jason T (2007) Positive and negative social exchanges and disability in later life: an investigation of trajectories of change. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 62:S361-70
August, Kristin J; Rook, Karen S; Newsom, Jason T (2007) The joint effects of life stress and negative social exchanges on emotional distress. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 62:S304-14
Mavandadi, Shahrzad; Sorkin, Dara H; Rook, Karen S et al. (2007) Pain, positive and negative social exchanges, and depressive symptomatology in later life. J Aging Health 19:813-30

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