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Grace-005_Cat Thrasher

Social Support: Channels, Contexts, Health Consequences, and Technological Applications

Year Group 2013/14

Interdisciplinary theme group finding an answer to the question of whether relationships improve our health, and, if so, how.

About the topic

We know that the quality of people’s relationships is related to health. Having a good social network is as strongly or stronger related to health than classic health predictors, like obesity and smoking. But we understand only the basics of how relationships and health are related. Do relationships improve our health, and, if so, how? Members of this theme group have revealed that relationships relate to health through so-called embodied channels, like a warm, soothing touch. If this is indeed the case, how can we incorporate embodied channels into computer-mediated communication, and how can we lower the threshold through technology for those who have troubles relating?

Hans IJzerman, Theme Group Coordinator