From Social Alienation to Physical Health Concerns
Depression and Alcohol Proneness as Disconnection Pathways
It is well established that social isolation is a robust predictor of poor health outcomes, both mental and physical. Yet, little is known about whether and how personality characteristics related to social isolation (e.g., social alienation) affect health. Grounded in relational-cultural theory, the present study examined depression and alcohol proneness as parallel mechanisms underlying the association between social alienation and physical health concerns. As hypothesized, social alienation was positively associated with depression and alcohol proneness, and depression and alcohol proneness were both positively associated with health concerns. Notably, social alienation was indirectly associated with health concerns through depression for both men and women and through alcohol proneness for only men. Findings suggest depression, alcohol proneness, and gender play critical roles in understanding the association between social alienation and physical health. These findings support a growing body of social cure-focused research showing that the quality of social connections can have a profound effect on mental and physical health. Such knowledge can inform clinical assessments, interventions, and policies in a variety of healthcare settings.