Effect of gratitude on loneliness of Chinese college students: Social support as a mediator
Shiguang Ni, Ruidong Yang, and Yufeng Zhang, (Tsinghua University), and Rui Dong, (Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics), 2015, 43(4), 559–566

The appeal of this article is simply that of leaving me wondering about the interpretation of social support in an electronic era. The authors define this as “the support and help one obtains through social interaction,” and go on to say that “social support is an important protective factor against loneliness and mental health problems.”

To a person of my age and technological inadequacy, social support creates an assumption of personal interaction with others, be it in a class, community group, neighborhood, or home. There is definitely a physical presence and exchange of ideas, opinions, and comments. Given the current dominance and significance of social media use, though, it seem that a young person, in particular college students, as in this research, could interpret social support to include their interaction on social media. Apart from a brief reference to “classmates” in the assessment of social support, the results in this study do allow for the use of social media as a means of social support.

The authors’ conclusion that “gratitude and social support both exert protective effects against loneliness in college students” is logical and affirming. I do wonder if the help of social support to reduce loneliness could, in fact, increase loneliness if the support is gained only through Internet access. This opens up a further possibility of interpreting loneliness!

Lesley Aitken | Copyeditor
Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal