Publications

The Strength of Weaker Ties: An Underexplored Resource for Maintaining Emotional Well-being in Later Life

Objectives

The purpose of this study was to examine dynamic links between changes in social ties and changes in emotional well-being.
Method

Trivariate dual-change score models were used to test whether a large number of close ties would be more strongly associated with low levels of depressed affect than a large number of weaker ties, and a large number of weaker ties would be more strongly associated with high levels of positive affect compared to a large number of close ties, across three waves of a large, regionally representative sample of U.S. adults aged 40 and older (N = 802).
Results

We found that a greater number of weaker ties was associated with having more close ties over time, and that the number of weaker ties was more strongly predictive of positive age-related changes in both aspects of well-being (i.e., more positive affect and less depressed affect) than the number of close ties.
Discussion

Contrary to popular theoretical orientations in gerontology, weaker ties may offer older adults a more effective avenue for promoting emotional well-being over time than close ties, and may have the additional benefit of compensating for losses in the number of close ties.