University of Twente Student Theses


Relationships of Well-Being and Depressive Mood with Social Contact in Students’ Daily Life: An Experience Sampling Study

Deiters, R. (2022) Relationships of Well-Being and Depressive Mood with Social Contact in Students’ Daily Life: An Experience Sampling Study.

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Abstract:Background: The high prevalence of depressive symptoms in students affects their academic and personal life, while high average well-being can enhance resilience and protect from the onset of mental disorders on the long term. It is widely assumed that social contact as a contextual factor plays a crucial role for students’ well-being and depressive mood. Yet, it remains unclear to what extent those relationships are present also on an intraindividual level in students’ daily lives and how different types of contact are related to mental health. Objective: This study examined the relationships of well-being and depressive mood in students’ daily life with their social contact frequency, including the overall association and associations distinguished into between- and within-person relationships. The type of social contact in relation with students’ well-being and depressive mood was also analyzed. Method: This experience sampling study was conducted among 34 students gathered via convenience sampling. For two weeks, participants answered questions about their amount and type of social contact, level of well-being (Short Warwick Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale) and depressive mood (single-item depression scale) three times per day. The data were analyzed with linear mixed models and individual cases were investigated visually. Results: The analyses revealed a positive association between social contact and well-being on the between- (β=.32, p<.001) and the within-person level (β=.22, p<.001). Depressive mood was not significantly related with social contact on the between-person level, but on the within-person level negatively (β=-.14, p=.002). Graphs of individual cases showed exceptions on several days on which those found relationships were reversed. In comparison with no contact, contact with family, close friends, partner, and acquaintances predicted higher well-being significantly, but contact with acquaintances less strongly. Only contact with close friends, family, and partner predicted lower depressive mood, but not contact with acquaintances. Conclusion: Social contact is a predictor of students’ well-being and depressive mood and should thus be used in interventions to enhance their mental health. For example, forming peer relationships should be supported at universities. However, intraindividual patterns indicate that social contact is not always related with better mental health, providing preliminary evidence that the quality of the contact may be a predictor, and that solitary time can also be beneficial. Therefore, interventions should be tailored to individual needs and further research is needed on which qualities of social contact predict momentary mental health. Also, a randomized controlled trial is needed to test causality.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
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