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Research Highlight

Updated: Jan 18

Relational diversity in social portfolios predicts well-being

Hanne K Collins, Serena F Hagerty, Jordi Quoidbach, Alison Wood Brooks

Edited by Jonathan Gershuny, University College London, London, United Kingdom


October 17, 2022 119 (43) e2120668119

Summary of Research

The connection between social interaction and well-being is widely recognized: those who are happier tend to socialize more, and people derive more happiness when they are socially engaged. This study delves deeper into the nature of these social interactions to determine which types of relationships (e.g., family, close friends, acquaintances, strangers) most significantly impact well-being. A pivotal discovery was the positive correlation between the relational diversity of one's social interactions and their well-being. This relational diversity refers to the variety and balance of relationship types a person interacts with. Data from over 50,000 respondents across four different samples, including a preregistered survey, the American Time Use Survey, the World Health Organization’s Study on Global Aging and Adult Health, and a French mobile application, consistently showed that the richness of one's "social portfolio" is a robust predictor of well-being, even when considering other factors.

How Experience Sampling was Used

An experience sampling mobile application was deployed on a large scale in France (60,000+ users). Data was collected on the psychological experiences in everyday life through randomized daily questionnaires, of which half a million were completed. Participants were asked, multiple times a day, key questions that allowed the researchers to create a "social portfolio diversity" index as well as an "activity diversity". These questions were always preceded by subjective well-being questions which, when correlated to the indexes, could be used to support the existence of the key finding of the paper - diversity of social interactions promotes wellbeing.


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