Positive, Negative, and Ambivalent Interactions With Family and Friends: Associations With Well-being

Hyo Jung Lee, Maximiliane E. Szinovacz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


Although the relationship between social relationships and mental health is well established, debate continues about the relative importance of specific sources (spouses, children, relatives, friends) as well as of positive and negative interactions. The authors examined the associations of positive, negative, and ambivalent interactions with life satisfaction and depressive symptoms for spouses, children, relatives, and friends, using data from the 2008 Health and Retirement Study (N = 6,418). The findings generally showed positive associations between positive interactions and mental health and negative associations between negative or ambivalent interactions and mental health. These associations were most pronounced for relationships with spouses and children. Gender differences were found in life satisfaction but not in depressive symptoms. These results imply that future research on older adults needs to consider both positive and negative relationship features from diverse sources separately and in combination to disentangle their relative effects and their additive or compensatory potential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)660-679
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jun 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Journal of Marriage and Family.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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