Which aspects of social support are associated with which cognitive abilities for which people?
To assess the relations between 11 aspects of social support and five cognitive abilities (vocabulary, reasoning, spatial visualization, memory, and speed of processing) and to determine whether these relations between social support and cognition are moderated by age or sex.
A sample of 2,613 individuals between the ages of 18 and 99 years completed a battery of cognitive tests and a questionnaire assessing aspects of social support. A measure of general intelligence was computed using principal components analysis. Multiple regressions were used to evaluate whether each aspect of support and/or its interactions with age or sex predicted each cognitive ability and g.
Several aspects of social support were significantly related to all five cognitive abilities and to g. When g was included as a predictor, there were few relations with specific cognitive abilities. Age and sex did not moderate any of the relations.
These results suggest that contact with family and friends, emotional and informational support, anticipated support, and negative interactions are related to cognition, whereas satisfaction with and tangible support were not. In addition, these aspects of support were primarily related to g, with the exception of family contact. Social support– cognition relations are comparable across the life span and the sexes.