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Abstract

Social exchanges and control beliefs are each associated with heath yet rarely considered together. This research examined whether control beliefs are a plausible mechanism linking domain specific social exchanges (both supportive and unsupportive) to health. The sample consisted of 2,348 adults drawn from the Midlife in the United States Survey (MIDUS). All participants were married or in a cohabitating relationship; they were primarily White and educated. Structural equation modeling was used to test multiple meditational models. When the model was tested for the entire sample, control beliefs were found to serve as a mediator, significantly mediating the relationship between social exchanges and subjective well-being, but not physical health. When the model was tested for separate age groups, evidence for mediation was found for the young (24-39) and middle-aged (40-59) groups, but not the older (60-75) group. Results suggest a meditational model in young and middle adulthood is plausible, but that social exchanges may serve different functions and have different associations with control beliefs across the lifespan. Thus, social network theory should consider adopting a lifespan perspective sensitive to the developmental tasks and goals at varying ages.

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