Social Influences on Adolescent Behavior Problems
Joan Vondra University of Rochester
James Garbarino Erik Erikson Institute
Every individual is embedded in a social context that shapes personal experience and affects individual well-being. Not only does this context serve as the source of both positive and negative events, but it also influences how the individual will respond to them. At the same time, however, individual characteristics and competencies themselves have an impact on one's social milieu. Psychological style and interpersonal skills help determine the nature and amount of support available from one's social network and how effectively they are utilized.
We may define a "social network" to include all those relatives and friends whom one sees on a regular basis, with whom one feels a close emotional bond, and with whom one has established some kind of functional relationship. Importantly, empirical inquiry has established a solid link between the support received from members of the social network -- usually categorized in terms of emotional nurturance, instrumental assistance, social values and feedback, or information and referral ( Mitchell & Trickett, 1980) -- and a variety of indices of physical and psychological adjustment and well-being. Successful attempts to correlate the amount of social support received and self-reported anxiety, stress, and depression are perhaps the most common (e.g., Pattison, Llamas, & Hurd, 1979; Pearlin & Johnson, 1977; Procidano & Heller, 1979). The supportive involvement of family, friends, and neighbors appears to be effective in buffering day-to-day tensions and strains. It seems to be especially important in mitigating the effects of stressful life