Age, trust, life events, boundaries, and social skills: A path analysis

Scott, Anne
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The problem examined in this study was how much variance is explained in a model of boundaries (flexible, open, and closed), including three antecedents, age, life events, and trust, and one consequence, social skills. The purpose was to test six hypotheses purporting the relationship and predictive power of the variables in the recursive model. This exploratory descriptive study used a path analysis design with a survey technique to test a theoretical model designed by the researcher. The non-random convenience sample of 145 adults 18 to 77 was demographically diverse. The four instruments used in data collection were the General Opinion Survey, the Schedule of Recent Experience, the Social Skills Inventory, and the Scott Boundary Measurement Tool for Adults. The reliability of all instruments was greater than.70.

Data was analyzed using hierarchical multiple regression. An alpha of.10 was used as the criteria for retaining beta weights. In the final model, 17.4% (p =.0000) of the variance of social skills was explained by age and open boundaries. Of this, 4.18% was explained by age and 13.27% was explained by open boundaries. Trust explained 1.96% (p =.093) of the variance of open boundaries and 2.14% (p =.079) of the variance of closed boundaries. Age and life events were correlated at .478 (p <.001). Flexible boundaries had a curvilinear relationship with social skills and did not have a significant relationship with any of the variables in the model.

Of the six hypotheses, two were partially supported and four were rejected. This study implied that nurses should avoid generalizing older people as less trusting, less flexible, or less open. The study reinforced that trust is a prerequisite for open relationships and open boundaries are a prerequisite for social skills. Because life events were not predictive of boundaries, it can be concluded that it is not the number of life events but rather the meaning of the events that cause people to respond either with openness, closedness, or flexibility. Although the social skills of the older client may be poorer, the elderly person is not intentionally closing their boundaries. Neither trust nor life events were predictive of good social skills.

Boundary concepts, Social skills, Age and life events