Date of this Version
Social Forces 87:4 (June 2009), pp. 2031-2062.
Using a nationally representative sample of adolescents, we examine associations among social integration (network size), network cohesion (alter-density), perceptions of social relationships (e.g., social support) and adolescent depressive symptoms. We find that adolescents with either too large or too small networks have higher levels of depressive symptoms. Among girls, however, the ill effects of over-integration only occur at low levels of network cohesion. For boys, in contrast, the ill effects of over-integration only occur at high levels of network cohesion. Large social networks tend not to compromise positive perceptions of friend support or belonging; whereas, small networks are associated with low perceptions of friend support and belonging. Hence, perceptions of social relationships mediate the ill effects of under-integration, but not over-integration, on depressive symptoms.