Graduation Year

2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Sociology

Major Professor

John Skvoretz

Keywords

Equity Theory, Friendship, Mental Health, Social Network Analysis, Social Support

Abstract

Using social network analysis as a theoretical framework, the current study examined the associations between self-reported egocentric network characteristics and depression among a sample of United States college students. It is important to understand factors related to depression among this population due to the severity of its potential outcomes (e.g., suicide and interpersonal problems at school). Drawing inspiration from a recent study conducted by Christina Falci and Clea McNeely (2009), the current investigation used OLS regression to test for both linear and curvilinear relationships between egocentric network size and depression. Potential interactions between network size, density, and gender were also explored. As an additional line of inquiry, this project examined whether or not (and to what extent) perceptions of reciprocity mediate the relationships between network characteristics and depression. Data were collected using an online survey, which was proctored to students enrolled in three large undergraduate sociology courses during the fall 2010 semester. In contrast to findings reported by Falci and McNeely (2009), no significant relationships were observed between network characteristics and mental health. However, support reciprocity was found to be a significant predictor of depression at the multivariate level. Additional research will be necessary in order to confirm (or refute) the results of Falci and McNeely (2009) and to further assess the mediating effects of perceived equity.

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