Eric D. Widmer

Aeby, G., Gauthier, J. A., & Widmer, E. D. (2020). Patterns of support and conflict relationships in personal networks and perceived stress. Current Sociology, 0011392120948926.

This article investigates the association between personal networks and stress, both positively through support and negatively through conflict. In a representative sample of 755 individuals residing in Switzerland, each individual was asked to name people in their lives who they perceived as very important, as well as to report their mutual support and conflict interactions. First, the article develops and investigates a typology with five relational patterns based on indicators of emotional support and conflict relationships in personal networks. These patterns are the following: bonding social capital, bridging social capital, ego-centered conflict, overload, and ambivalent. Second, it explores the association of these patterns with stress levels that are perceived in various life domains. Results show that individuals involved in relationships that were predominantly supportive had lower levels of stress, whereas individuals experiencing relationships characterized by conflict, or an imbalance in support by giving more than receiving, had higher levels of stress. Finally, ambivalent relationships in which support and conflict were equally present were associated with an intermediate level of stress. These results show the importance of considering support and conflict relationships together in personal network structures.

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