Oct 3, 2013
One of a series of reports designed to support Air Force leadership in promoting resilience among Airmen, its civilian employees, and Air Force family members, this report examines social fitness, or the combination of resources from social connections that influence how individuals respond to stressful circumstances. It assesses the current social fitness constructs and measures in scientific literature to identify methods of increasing social connectedness and support among U.S. Airmen and their families.
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This report is one of a series of reports designed to support Air Force leadership in promoting resilience among Airmen, its civilian employees, and Air Force family members. One key component to resilience is social fitness, or the combined resources a person gets from his or her social world. This concept encompasses the availability and maintenance of social relationships, and the ability to utilize those ties to manage stressors and successfully perform tasks. Social fitness resources are the aspects of those relationships that strengthen a person's ability to withstand and rebound from challenges and even grow from them. U.S. Airmen and their families face several unique challenges that can strain the strength and accessibility of these resources, particularly geographic movement. This report identifies several scales and indexes used in social science research to measure three primary social fitness resources, emotional support, instrumental support, and informational support, and proposes that interventions aimed at increasing the quantity and quality of social support should focus on (1) sociodemographic characteristics and dispositional traits; (2) dynamics that strengthen social groups, support networks, and teams; (3) practices that improve social skills and promote more frequent and constructive interactions; and (4) activities that reduce conflict and group division. Particular attention is given to interventions that utilize cyber or virtual communities as an effective means of increasing social connectedness and social support among U.S. Airmen and their families.
The Context of This Report
Social Fitness Definition and Constructs
Measures and Sources of Social Fitness, and Its Link to Well-Being
Barriers and Bridges to Social Support
Interventions to Promote Social Fitness