A Longitudinal Study of the Relations Among University Students’ Subjective Social Status, Social Contact with University Friends, and Mental Health and Well-Being
Written by Mark Rubin, Olivia Evans and Ross B. Wilkinson
Prior research has found that the higher one’s perceived status in society, the better one’s mental health and well-being. The present research used a longitudinal design to investigate whether social contact with friends mediated this relation between subjective social status and mental health and well-being among first-year undergraduate students at an Australian university (Wave 1 N = 749, Wave 2 N = 314). Participants completed an online survey that included measures of subjective social status, social contact with university friends during the past week, and mental health and well-being during the past week. Multiple regression analyses found that subjective social status positively predicted amount of social contact with university friends, and that both of these variables positively predicted subsequent mental health and well-being. Furthermore, bootstrapped mediation tests found that social contact with university friends acted as a significant mediator of the relations between social status and mental health and wellbeing. These results are discussed in terms of their implications for the mental health and well-being of lower class students at university.