Would more social partners leads to enhanced health? The paradox between quantity and quality

Cai XING, Xin ZHANG, Sheung-Tak CHENG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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In the current investigation, we examined the association between social network composition (SNC) and mental health, as well as whether quantity and quality of social network could influence mental health differently. The social network quantity and quality of 345 middle-aged and older Chinese adults were measured by the Social Convoy Questionnaire. The Chinese version of the Medical Outcome Studies 36-item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) was used to assess mental health while controlling for physical health. It was found that both quantity and quality of social network were associated with mental health, and more specifically that (1) quantity of peripheral partners (PP) was positively associated with mental health; (2) quality of emotionally close social partners (ECSP) influenced mental health the most; and (3) paradoxically, the effect of ECSP quality on mental health depended on quantity of ECSP, that is, participants with more ECSP showed a stronger association between ECSP quality and mental health. The findings replicated and extended previous studies on SNC and suggested that structure/quantity and quality of SNC were both important for mental health. Copyright © 2017 The Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences and John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-227
JournalPsyCh Journal
Issue number3
Early online dateSep 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017



Xing, C., Zhang, X., & Cheng, S.-T. (2017). Would more social partners leads to enhanced health? The paradox between quantity and quality. PsyCh Journal, 6(3), 219-227.


  • Emotionally close social partners
  • Mental health
  • Peripheral partners
  • Social network composition
  • Social support