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Title page for ETD etd-06092004-104220

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Ueno, Koji
URN etd-06092004-104220
Title Friendship Integration and Adolescent Mental Health
Degree PhD
Department Sociology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Karen E. Campbell Committee Co-Chair
Peggy A. Thoits Committee Co-Chair
Bahr Weiss Committee Member
Tony N. Brown Committee Member
Walter R. Gove Committee Member
  • friendship
  • social network
  • mental health
  • depression
  • adolescence
Date of Defense 2004-02-14
Availability unrestricted
Drawing from the previous studies, I distinguish three components of social integration, including network integration (size, density, centrality), behavioral integration (frequency of interaction), and affective/cognitive integration (strength of positive thoughts and feelings about others). I propose a conceptual model and argue that these components of social integration, both at individual and organizational levels, should promote mental health. I extend previous studies, which have focused on the adult population, by focusing on the adolescent population. Specifically, I examine the effects of adolescent friendships on depressive symptoms.

Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (N=11,023 adolescents at 105 schools), I demonstrate that greater degrees of network and behavioral integration are generally associated with fewer depressive symptoms, as expected. However, the relationships are weak, and many integration indicators do not have significant effects on depressive symptoms, after controlling for egocentric network size—the most efficient measure of network integration. The effect of egocentric network size is mediated by affective/cognitive integration, consistent with the assumption frequently made in the literature that network and behavioral integration contribute to mental health by providing a sense of belonging, security, and comfort. The results also show that having friends who share the same socio-demographic characteristics strengthens a sense of belonging to school. However, this relationship varies across socio-demographic groups, and it also depends on student distributions at school, suggesting that adolescents in different groups and school contexts have unique motivations to become associated with similar others and derive different meaning from their friendships.

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