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Social Connection and Compassion: Important Predictors of Health and Well-Being
Social Research: An International Quarterly
Short Title: Soc. Res
Format: Journal Article
Publication Date: Nov 30, 2012
Pages: 411 - 430
Sources ID: 114336
Visibility: Public (group default)
Abstract: (Show)
From the dawn of modern psychology, psychological theorists have emphasized the importance of positive human social connection for health, well-being, and survival. Both early and modern psychologists have argued that social connection—that is, the development of posi­ tive relationships with others in the social world—is a primary psycho­ logical need and motivator essential for human development and survival (Baumeister and Leary 1995,499; Hart, Shaver, and Goldenberg 2005, 1000; Maslow 1943, 375). Indeed, several decades of research on social connection now confirm that it is linked to a substantial number of psychological and physical health benefits as well as longevity (Berkman and Syme 1979, 201-202; Cacioppo et al. 2002,416; Pressman et al. 2005, 297).Despite its importance, sociological research suggests that social connection is waning at an alarming rate in modern American society. Household sizes are decreasing and biological family and friends are more geographically and emotionally disconnected from one another than ever before (Hobbs and Stoops 2002, 33; McPherson, Smith-Lovin, Brashears 2006, 358; Putnam 2001, 541). Consequently, loneliness, isolation, and alienation are rising (Lee and Robbins 1995, 232-241) and represent one of the leading reasons people seek psychological coun­ seling (Baumeister and Leary 1995, 497-529; McWhirter 1990, 419). A revealing sociological study found that in 2004 the average American reported having only two close others with whom to confide while nearly 25 percent of Americans reported having no one at all (2006, 371). In view of the importance of social connection as a human moti­ vator and determinant of well-being, we examine the ways in which social connection has been defined in different psychological subfields, the consequences of social connection, the antecedents of social connection, and the cultivation of compassion as a way to increase social connection.