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Childhood friendships may carry health benefits into adulthood

Raghu Kshitiz

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WASHINGTON — Time spent with friends in childhood is associated with physical health in adulthood, according to the findings, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

The study data from a multi-decade study of men show that boys who spent more time with friends as children tended to have lower blood pressure and lower BMI as men in their early 30s.

“These findings suggest that our early social lives may have a small protective influence on our physical health in adulthood, and it’s not just our caregivers or financial circumstances, but also our friends who may be health protective,” Jenny Cundiff , says psychological scientist at Texas Tech University.

The fact that the association was evident over a 16-year span and was not explained by several other potential factors gives Cundiff confidence in the results.

“Although this wasn’t an experiment, it was a well-controlled longitudinal study in a racially diverse sample — so it provides a strong clue that being socially integrated early in life is good for our health independent of a number of other factors such as personality, weight in childhood, and the family’s social status in childhood,” she explains.

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In many previous studies, researchers have found an association between adults’ social well-being — including their close relationships and sources of social support — and health-related outcomes including cardiovascular risk factors.

Cundiff and coauthor Karen Matthews of the University of Pittsburgh wondered whether this association might be evident much earlier in life, in childhood and adolescence.

To find out, the researchers examined data from the Pittsburgh Youth Study, a longitudinal study following cohorts of boys who were initially recruited to participate as students in Pittsburgh public schools.

Specifically, they examined data from 267 individuals in the youngest cohort, most of whom were Black (about 56%) or White (about 41%).

The participants’ parents reported how much time their children spent with their friends during an average week, beginning when the boys were about 6 years old and continuing through age 16.

The study also included data on various individual characteristics (e.g. extraversion and hostility in childhood; physical health in childhood and adulthood) and family and environmental factors (e.g., socioeconomic status in childhood, social integration in adulthood).

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Analyses revealed that boys who spent more time with their friends in childhood and adolescence, as reported by their parents, had healthier blood pressure and body mass index at age 32.

This association held even after Cundiff and Matthews accounted for other potential influences, including physical health in childhood and social integration in adulthood.

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Men also suffer from post-sex sadness

Gorkha Post

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Even men feel sad after having sex owing to several reasons, according to a recent study which found that men suffer from Postcoital Dysphoria (PCD) which results in sadness, tearfulness or irritability following sex.

“The study breaks down the results of an international anonymous online survey of 1,208 men from Australia, the USA, the UK, Russia, New Zealand, Germany and elsewhere,” said a researcher Joel Maczkowiack in the paper published by the international journal of Sex & Marital Therapy.

The study focused mostly on men in heterosexual relationships, and all of the sexual relationships were consensual.

Co-author Professor Robert Schweitzer said that comments from the men he surveyed included, “I feel empty, I feel unsatisfied, I don’t want to be touched, I want to be left alone.”

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Of the 1,207 men surveyed for the study, 41 per cent had experienced PCD, and 20 per cent had experienced it in the previous four weeks.

“Forty-one percent of the participants reported experiencing PCD in their lifetime with 20 percent reporting they had experienced it in the previous four weeks. Up to four percent suffered from PCD on a regular basis,” he added.

“The first three phases of the human sexual response cycle — excitement, plateau, and orgasm — have been the focus of the majority of research to date,” said Schweitzer.

Researchers said that men who participated and who had experienced sadness following sex described experiences ranging from “I don’t want to be touched and want to be left alone” to feeling unsatisfied, “annoyed and very fidgety.

“Another described feeling ’emotionless and empty’ in contrast to the men who experienced the post-coital experience positively, and used descriptors such as a ‘feeling of well-being, satisfaction, contentment’ and closeness to their partner,” he added.

“The experience of the resolution phase remains a bit of a mystery and is therefore poorly understood. It is commonly believed that males and females experience a range of positive emotions including contentment and relaxation immediately following consensual sexual activity,” he added.

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Previous studies on PCD experience found that a similar proportion of females had experienced PCD on a regular basis.
But the case with men is not well understood at the moment.

“We would speculate that the reasons are multifactorial, including both biological and psychological factors,” Schweitzer further pointed out.

Anecdotal evidence from clinical settings as well as personal accounts posted on online blogs suggested that PCD did occur amongst males and had the potential to interfere with couple interactions following sex.

With Agency Inputs

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