Is reciprocity always beneficial? Age differences in the association between support balance and life satisfaction

Tianyuan LI, Hung Kit FOK, Helene H. FUNG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticles

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objectives: Reciprocity in support exchanges is believed to be beneficial to psychological well-being. This study examined perceived emotional and instrumental support balance from either family or friends, and the relationship between each support balance and life satisfaction among young and older adults.
Method: The sample included 107 older adults and 96 young adults. They rated their life satisfaction, as well as the emotional and instrumental support they provided to and received from family members and friends.
Results: Consistent with the socioemotional selectivity theory, age differences were found in perceived emotional support balance with friends. Older adults reported more emotionally reciprocal friendships than did young adults. Moreover, contrary to the equity rule, emotionally over-benefited friendships were associated with higher life satisfaction for older adults than were reciprocal friendships.
Conclusion: Age, type of support, and source of support should be considered when studying the relationships between support balance and psychological well-being. Copyright © 2011 Taylor & Francis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-547
JournalAging and Mental Health
Volume15
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Citation

Li, T., Fok, H. K., & Fung, H. H. (2011). Is reciprocity always beneficial? Age differences in the association between support balance and life satisfaction. Aging & Mental Health, 15(5), 541-547. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2010.551340

Keywords

  • Reciprocity
  • Life satisfaction
  • Age differences
  • Source of support
  • Type of support

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