A theoretical and methodological analysis of social support, life events and subjective well-being : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University
This thesis presents a theoretical and methodological analysis of social support, life events and subjective well-being. Theoretical developments and conceptualizations are presented for each area along with an examination of the various measures available, many of which are found to be confounded with outcome measures. Particular attention is paid to the controversial 'buffering hypothesis' of social support. A life-span perspective for viewing life events and social support is highlighted. Methodology is discussed in terms of direct effects, additive effects and interactions. Among the studies examined problems which emerged as particularly relevant included confusing theoretical conceptualizations, confounded and inadequate measures and incomplete reporting of results. Strategies for future research methodology are recommended. These include the need for longitudinal studies and consensus as to appropriate analysis with more use being made of subjective well-being as an outcome measure. Studies would be improved by using both objective and subjective scales to measure all variables while clearly indentifying each as such. It is suggested that life events and social support should be examined in a life-span developmental context. The need for theoretical and conceptual clarity is emphasised, particularly in the area of social support where a new definition is presented. It is recommended that social support be further examined as a variable in its own right rather than as a buffer.