Few people pay attention to the fact that intimacy and feeling close to someone who is important to them can lead to their well-being and happiness. But there is a lot of research that shows that social support can improve mental health and keep it at its best. be with us. In this article, we discuss how this research and its results.
Good relationships and their effect on personal growth
This may not be the right question for whether it is important to have good relationships with others; Rather, the right question is to know how we can achieve and maintain such relationships. You may want to get closer to someone or a larger support group, but you do not know how to build a strong bond between yourself and someone else, do you?
Studies of individual growth through relationships have a slightly different approach than other studies. In fact, such studies do not examine how relationships are formed; They focus only on the benefits of those relationships and the well-being of the people. With the help of these studies and their results, you will be able to draw a new and fresh path for yourself to form close and intimate relationships with others.
Review of recent research on personal growth
In 2019, Masashiro Toyama and his research team from North Dakota State University examined relationships and personal growth using a large body of data on the lives of middle-aged to older people. The data was the result of a study called MIDUS, a mid-year study conducted by researchers in the mid-1990s. They used probabilistic sampling to access the personality and behavioral data of 7,108 adults aged 20 to 75 years.
Volunteers in the study were also surveyed twice: once between 2005 and 2006, of which only 4,963 were present; Once again, from 2013 to 2014, this time 3,294 of those initial volunteers were present.
Usually, one of the drawbacks of long-term studies is the loss of early participants in research over time. But research that is constantly followed by volunteers over time is more valuable. Fortunately, researchers were able to identify their volunteer change patterns and recover lost data using sophisticated new statistical models.
In this study, Toyama and colleagues sought to examine how work-related psychosocial factors, positive interpersonal relationships, and spiritual issues affect the personal development of men and women over time. In this study, another predictive factor called “generativity” was added. In fact, fertility means connecting with younger people and caring for the next generation.
Fertility occurs at the highest level when a person hopes that not only his children but the entire younger generation will be able to follow in his absence. People who are well off in terms of fertility do not ridicule the younger generations, like the millennials, but instead rely on their abilities and are confident that they can improve their situation as well as their world. In addition, the person with fertility characteristics is available as an educational resource to help and support young people.
In this study, researchers define individual growth as “eudaimonia.” The term goes back to Aristotle, which means one’s desire to flourish and become the best and most unique thing one can do.
Previous research results
The North Dakota Research Team summarized previous research data (MIDUS) as follows: Personal growth leads to good mood, increased tolerance, the ability to overcome difficult moments, life satisfaction, self-fulfillment (a term in the Maslow pyramid for the highest level of motivation), self-control, mastery of the environment, positive relationships with others, purpose in life And is accepted.
People with high personal growth can cope with life’s problems, and life events can cause them to grow (post-traumatic growth: the term for “post-traumatic stress”). They are not only able to cope with the anxiety or threat they feel, but they can also reach a new level of well-being. Consider, for example, a person who loses a loved one to an illness; After the days of mourning, he becomes more appreciative of what life’s compelling for him, changes his priorities, and pursues deep personal relationships. Such a person has high personal growth.
At what stage in life (youth or when they are older) are adults likely to achieve personal growth? This question prompted researchers to examine different patterns of change over a 20-year period. Because personal growth is important throughout life, the factors that can lead a person to personal growth may vary between different age groups or with increasing age.
To investigate this possibility, the researchers analyzed data from several questionnaires (obtained after several tests); As a result, they were able to measure personal growth on the following three-year scale:
- For me, life is a continuous process of learning, change and growth;
- I think it is important to have new experiences that challenge how I think about myself and the world;
- I have long ceased to strive for great progress or change in my life.
This scale is derived from the Ryff Welfare Scale; But unfortunately it is very short and can not be ideally stable. However, because only this scale was available in the MIDUS study, the researchers had no choice but to use it. On this scale, you should ask yourself how much you agree with each of the questions; Of course, the third question is reverse coding.
Other psychological factors measured in the MIDUS study were employment status (employed or not) and fertility (how many people come to you for counseling). Researchers also examined the volunteers’ spiritual status by asking two questions: What is the place of spirituality in their lives and how spiritual do they consider themselves?
Using three other questions from the Reef Welfare Scale, the researchers measured the personal relationships of the self-assessment:
- Maintaining a close relationship is hard and frustrating for me;
- When people see that I like to share my time with others, they introduce me as generous;
- I have not had warm and secure relationships with others.
Measuring positive relationships with these questions, such as the Personal Growth Scale, still lacks good statistical reliability due to the small number of questions. As you can see, the first and third questions show little positive relationship.
If you have answered these questions yourself, you may want to know where you are on these short but predictive scales. You may even want to know what your current score is, 10 years from now or in the future; Or what role do you think the quality of your personal relationships can play in improving your well-being? Do you consider yourself a productive person and spirituality has a high place in your list of priorities?
The researchers only looked at the personal growth scores of the participants in a 20-year study. They looked at the changing patterns of people who were 35 when they started research in the mid-1990s and those who were 55 separately. They then showed excellent as well as poor patterns of personal growth in the form of graphs. People who were great in terms of personal relationships during this 20-year period also had very good personal growth. Of course, all research participants experienced a slight decline in personal growth between 2004 and 2006; Researchers have attributed this to possible changes in society and the historical context (in fact, these years were the closest to the 9/11 attacks).
In their latest study, the researchers found that the 55-year-old group was very eager to start a new relationship; They also scored high on positive relationships. These people were equal to the younger ones in other respects, but they were better than their younger counterparts in terms of the positive relationships that aided their personal growth. In this study, they concluded that interpersonal relationships play a protective role in the personal development of older adults in the long run.
If your personal relationships are not at the level you want them to be, the results of a study by Toyama and his research team may have given you some hope that over time you can improve your personal relationships and gain an overall understanding of your personal growth. In addition, the results of this study showed that fertility can also play a role in predicting personal patterns. “Serving others can help boost personal growth, and the good news is that fertility is a psychosocial quality that you can achieve by believing in future generations and hearing their ideas,” the researchers said.
In summary, the results of MIDUS research show that interpersonal relationships make a significant difference in personal development; This difference manifests itself as you get older. Of note are the questions raised in this study about personal relationships. The purpose of these questions is not to know the number (quantity) of relationships that have occurred in the personal life of individuals; Rather, the researchers focused on the quality of the volunteer relationships in the experiment.
Even if you are not friends with many people, you can achieve good personal growth by being fertile (ready to help others) and combining it with the desire to share your time with the people in your support network; So that it can bring you to the perfection you want.