Social capital, loneliness and well-being in old age and the potential value of digital media

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractAcademic


Authors: Marianne Simons; Jennifer Reijnders; Sanne Peeters; Mayke Janssens; Johan Lataster; Nele Jacobs

Background and hypotheses: As social capital in previous research was found to be negatively related to age and positively to health, a better understanding of the association between social capital, well-being and loneliness of elderly can add to our knowledge about positive aging processes. We examined hypothesized negative associations between bonding social capital (BSC) and respectively age and loneliness and positive associations between BSC and respectively psychological, social and emotional well-being. Furthermore the associations between digital media applications - that is the use of Whatsapp and Social Network Sites (SNS) - and BSC were explored.

Method: In this cross-sectional study a sample of 274 Dutch older adults (Range=70y-93y; Mean(SD)=74.4y(4.6y); 34% female vs 66% male) filled out an online or printed questionnaire measuring BSC (PSCSE, Simons et al. 2019), psychological, social and emotional well-being (MHF-SF, Lamers et al. 2011), and loneliness (De Jong Gierveld & Van Tilburg, 2006) as well as SNS and Whatsapp use.

Results: Regression analyses including relevant covariates confirmed our hypotheses and found BSC to be negatively associated with age and loneliness and positively associated with respectively psychological, social and emotional well-being. Also a positive association between the use of Whatsapp and BSC was found. No association was found with SNS use.

Conclusion: Our findings indicate that BSC is an important factor in positive aging. The negative association between BSC and age illustrates the widening gap between the need for socio-emotional resources versus its availability and urges us to further explore ways to help older adults in preserving their BSC. Our results may indicate that Whatsapp can be useful for the elderly to support their BSC. However digital media use differ among age groups and it seems fruitful to further explore the potential value of digital media for current and future older populations.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2021
Event32nd International Conference of Psychology - Online, Prague, Czech Republic
Duration: 18 Jul 202123 Jul 2021


Conference32nd International Conference of Psychology
Abbreviated titleICP 2020+
Country/TerritoryCzech Republic
Internet address


  • Social capital
  • positive aging
  • well-being
  • digital media


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