Discussion Networks and Resilience of College Students: Explicating Tie Strength in Communicative Interaction

Seungyoon Lee, Bailey C. Benedict, Tamara C. Guest


With the prevalence of mental health problems on college campuses, resilience has emerged as a meaningful concept for understanding students’ well-being. Having strong ties to capitalize on is theorized as predicting resilient functioning. Yet the precise forms of strong ties, particularly manifested in communicative relations, is underexamined. Joining network and communication theoretical perspectives, this study disentangles how indicators of tie strength are associated with resilience. Analysis of 599 students’ personal networks shows that, beyond mental health and indicators of tie strength in the static network, how students activate communication ties (i.e., frequency of communication and diversity of topics discussed) explained two intrapersonal resilience dimensions: perceptions of future and social competence. In addition, substantive topics discussed had varying effects on the four resilience dimensions examined. Implications for integrating recent theorizing on networks in practice into traditional network perspectives (i.e., emphasizing network structure), and practical suggestions for understanding college students’ resilience, are presented.


resilience, personal networks, tie strength, core discussion networks, social network analysis

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