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Social Networks and Dyadic Relationships: A Mixed Methods Approach to Exploring Outcomes and Processes during Young Adulthood.

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Title: Social Networks and Dyadic Relationships: A Mixed Methods Approach to Exploring Outcomes and Processes during Young Adulthood.
Author: Pitman, Robyn
Department: Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition
Program: Family Relations and Applied Nutrition
Advisor: Kuczynski, Leon
Abstract: Social networks have been studied as a source of support, well-being, and change. However, relational quality has not been well conceptualized or has been implicitly studied with regards to social networks and their membership. It is unclear how relational quality is related to social networks and the outcomes associated with social networks at the macro level that reflect change processes at the micro level of dyadic relationships. Two studies were conducted using an explanatory sequential mixed methods design. The goal of Study 1 was to explore relational quality and the mental health outcomes associated with social network membership using research informed by the personal relationships literature and attachment theory. Study 1 looked at the positive and negative mental health outcomes associated with social network membership, specifically for family and peer relationships for young adults. Using an 8 month longitudinal design and quantitative methods that represented positive and negative dimensions of relational quality and mental health, this study found continuity between family and peer relationship quality. Further, mother relational quality was related to negative mental health outcomes while father relational quality was related to positive mental health outcomes. Peers were related to both positive and negative mental health outcomes. This study also provided support for an integrated approach to the study of social networks and relational quality by combining theoretical approaches derived from research on personal relationships and attachment theory. Study 2 investigated the internal decision making process that underlie changes to relationships, specifically the dissolution of non-romantic peer relationships. A subset of the sample recruited for Study 1 was used to explore dissolution processes. Twenty-two young adults were interviewed about a relationship they had identified as "changing", and their experiences of change, and how they understood change. The qualitative thematic analysis demonstrated that participants were actively detecting, monitoring, and interpreting the changes they experienced in their peer relationships. The findings support that change processes are active, dynamic, emergent, and that change is not a static event, but a process that involves expectations and violations, meaning making, and dissolution maintenance strategies. The final discussion argues for integrating theory and research from different perspectives on relationships, the importance of relational quality, and the use of mixed methods in exploring macro and micro levels of analysis and their interaction.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10214/8625
Date: 2014-11
Rights: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada
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