“Social capital,” according to the Greater Good Science Center,
refers to family and friends who support you through difficult times, as well as neighbors and coworkers who diversify your network and expose you to new ideas. While social capital originally referred to face-to-face interaction, it now also accounts for virtual interactions online such as email or on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Social capital also includes the rewards these social connections yield, such as the feelings of bonding and belonging felt in close friendship, and the expanded worldview you might get from looser, broader connections. And these benefits trickle down to many parts of life; social capital is associated with happiness, better job prospects, cardiovascular health, and positive health-seeking behavior. Among seniors, social capital has been linked to physical mobility and tends to reduce cognitive decline.
Last year, GGSC put out a social capital quiz, asking “readers questions about how connected they feel to a larger community, whether they have someone to turn to in times of need, and how open and curious they are about new people, places, and things—both in-person and online. In reviewing the data, we calculated an overall social capital score, in-person social capital score, and online social capital score for each responder, and we looked at the trends among everyone who took the quiz.” Here’s what they found:
- Young and old have less social capital than those in between.
- Ethnicity did not affect social capital scores.
- More education was linked to higher social capital.
- People in big cities had higher social capital.
- People on the West Coast had higher social capital.
- Liberals might have more social capital than conservatives.
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