Understanding Associations among Family Support, Friend Support, and Psychological Distress

Pers Relatsh. 2015 Mar;22(1):79-91. doi: 10.1111/pere.12063.

Abstract

Emotional support from family and friends is associated with lower psychological distress. This study examined whether genetic and environmental influences explain associations among family support, friend support, and psychological distress. Data were drawn from the Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS) study and included 947 pairs of MZ, same-sex DZ, and opposite-sex DZ twins. Results showed that a genetic factor explains the relationship between friend support and psychological distress, independent of family support. Alternatively, a nonshared environmental factor accounts for an association among family support, friend support, and psychological distress. Thus, heritable factors shape a distinct relationship between friend support and psychological distress, but unique experiences contribute to a link among family support, friend support, and psychological distress.