Happy but unhealthy: The relationship between social ties and health in an emerging network

Howell, J. L., Koudenburg, N., Loschelder, D. D., Weston, D., Fransen, K., De Dominices, S., Gallagher, S. & Haslam, S. A., Oct-2014, In : European Journal of Social Psychology. 44, 6, p. 612-621 10 p.

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  • Happy but unhealthy The relationship between social ties and health

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  • Jennifer L. Howell
  • Namkje Koudenburg
  • David D. Loschelder
  • Dale Weston
  • Katrien Fransen
  • Stefano De Dominices
  • Stephen Gallagher
  • S. Alexander Haslam
Social connections are essential to health and well-being. However, when pursing social acceptance, people may sometimes engage in behavior that is detrimental to their health. Using a multi-time-point design, we examined whether the structure of an emerging network of students in an academic summer school program correlated with their physical health and mental well-being. Participants who were more central in the network typically experienced greater symptoms of illness (e.g., cold/flu symptoms), engaged in riskier health behaviors (e.g., binge drinking), and had higher physiological reactivity to a stressor. At the same time, they were happier, felt more efficacious, and perceived less stress in response to a strenuous math task. These outcomes suggest that social ties in an emerging network are associated with better mental well-being, but also with poorer physical health and health behaviors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)612-621
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Oct-2014


  • health, social networks, physiological measures, well-being, social connections

ID: 15754345