THE EMOTIONAL FUNCTION OF

INTERPERSONAL RELATIONS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paper presented at the international conference

“FORGING REGIONAL COOPERATION IN THE

MEDITERRANEAN BASIN”

ARLES, MAY 27-28th 1999.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ÁGNES UTASI

INSTITUTE FOR POLITICAL SCIENCE OF THE

HUNGARIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES

H-1068 BUDAPEST, BENCZÚR U. 33.

E-MAIL: UTASI@MTAPTI.HU

 

 

THE EMOTIONAL FUNCTIONS OF INTERPERSONAL RELATIONS

 

 

 

 

Requirements and necessities are regulated in a hierarchy according to their function of living conditions.

The level of requirements of the lowest in the social order is characterized by the wish and desire stratum to satisfy their primary necessities, namely roof above their head, food and clothing. Having been able to satisfy the primary necessities and biological requirements of the individual, soon the claim for companions, family and friends appear, then desiring the appreciation and positive evaluation of the surrounding the desire for prestige appears as a further necessity together with the wish to emerge from the community. If the individual feels that its claim for prestige has been satisfied, the wish to satisfy the individual necessities breaks into the front together with the desire to become independent from the surrounding community. /Maslow, A. 1954, Halbwachs, M. 1913, Losonczi, Á. 1977, Utasi, Á. 1984/

Most of the university students can live under relatively favourable conditions in modern societies, in any case get above the level to satisfy their primary necessities. Among the value preferences the requirement to become integrated into the surrounding community and wishing to acquire the appreciation of the surrounding community, or passing even further the requirement for independence and becoming individual, appears in the system of prefererces. In our survey we examine these differentiated requirements in the dimension of informal and formal relations, primarily from the aspect of different emotional functions with regard to the contacts.

Accepting the fact that the majority of relations are based on mutuality, and that in addition to the reciprocal relations - primarily among parents and children and in the value-conducted contacts - an asymmetric altruism appears, we presume that the majority of contacts carry out a certain task and satisfy some requirement in human life. /Balu, P. 1982, Weber, M. 1987/

Individuals mostly expect different help and support from persons belonging to their network of contacts and hope for the satisfaction of their different problems. There are some contacts which mainly provide instrumental help of a physical character while others provide more emotional understanding, indulgence, love or companionship. This survey hardly covers dominantly instrumental help, namely providing work or material assets, we placed more emphasis on emotional and understanding assistance and wish to reveal the operation of expressive and emotional contacts with our investigation among the university students. In fact we believe that among the tasks and requirements of contacts those catalizing contacts are of on outstanding role which promote an emotional security and the role and significance of this becomes more important for those who live under increasingly favourable living conditions. /Balu, P. 1982, Granovetter, M. 1976, Weber, M. 1987/

Following the theory of Max Weber we wish to take into consideration that the motivations to acting are linked in most human contacts and we can rarely speak about acting motivated by separate emotions, and thus about contact exclusively motivated by emotions. The effect of emotion mostly appears to some extent in the target-rationally motivated contacts. Namely that some contact motivation may become dominant in the contacts, but mostly they do not acquire autocracy. Being aware of this we do not forget that when we try to reveal emotional help and contacts it is most possible that while providing emotional help, they would also provide instrumental assistance to the interviewees within certain areas. On the other hand, following the Maxweberian theory we have to take into consideration that it is not solely the emotion which motivates the areas dominantly analized by us, usually there are both the aim and value in the background wich to some extent rationalize the acting of those participating in the contact. /Max Weber, 1987/

 

 

 

 

Requirements with regard to contacts

 

In our investigation we were searching for the emotional requirements with regard to the contacts of the university students, for the satisfaction of such requirements belonging to the contact-network of the students, the ability of students to set up contacts, namely the extent how open they are to set up human contacts and what weight optimism and pessimism reperesent in their outlook. We recorded the sample in two university towns (Szeged and Veszprém, 1999. N=751). We are able to compare the Hungarian data in some areas with the data of a similar survey (Pines, A. 1999) taken in Israel, in Tel Aviv among the students of the Ben Gurion University (N=150) at the same time.

First we surveyed how the students find it important or perhaps indispensable that (1) some of their contacts should "listen to" them, (2) to appreciate their output, (3) to encourage them with evaluation for further action. (4) to assist them emotionally and (5) perhaps encourage them with realistic remarks to engage in challenge or (6) become a friendly partner in the discussion of everyday issues. Each question containing the indicated different emotional contact function was marked by the students in the sample from 1 (less important) to 7 (very important) /Pines, A.  Aronson, E. 1988/.

With regard to the questions containing the requirements of the contacts considered in six contact functions, the Hungarian students emphasized the importance of the companion indispensable to discuss everyday problems. Two third of the interviewees indicated the top two grades of the seven-grade scale, expressing that such a contact is very important in their life (Grade 6-7=69 %). A similar emotional function is indicated by those contacts which are unconditional solidarity with the interviewee, are suporting him in every issue, provide emotional support with their compassion, thus reassuring him in the correctness of his deed. The contact providing such emotional support is also very important for more than half of the interviewees (Grade 6-7 by 50.4 %) There is also a high ratio of those who simply desire to be listened to, "accepting" their problems, with whom they can "discuss" their sorrow or joy (Grade 6-7 by 48 %).

From among the contact functions listed on the questionnaire, the interviewees least referred to the contact encouraging, and motivating output and challenge through objective remarks (Grade 6-7 by 25.5 %). Most probably quietude is more pleasant while the "cool" remark encouraging further deeds and challenges usually disturbs "sleepy" stillness or a self-picture radiating conceited confidence, not infrequently inducing unpleasant feelings from the individual. Nevertheless a contact encouraging challenges can be more useful from the point of view of the development and promotion of the individual than the relative or friend who uncoditionally accepts and provides exclusively "emotional" assistance.

Even less of the interviewees require contacts which encourage better output through critieism (Grade 6-7 by 19.7 %). The contacts encouraging with "objective" remarks and "judgement" are both refused by one tenth (Grade 1) and are considered far from being indispensable in their life style.

In contrast to the latter there is a high ration of those who desire contacts appreciating their output (Grade 6-7 by 65 %). Encouragement an the appreciation of their work is almost of the same importance for the interviewees than conversing with somebody and share their problems as equal partners. From among the emotional contact dimensions the two last functions indicated the most general requirements among the university students. The continuous evaluation and constant appreciation of work and output is most probably missing from the life of the university students for mostly the exam-period provides an opportunity to control performance. Based on the answers it can by safely presumed that the students expect more and more frequent acknowledgement and appreciation concerning their energy invested in their work. However, as the control of the discovered requirements is also necessary to examine how far the members of the contact network of the university students are able to satisfy the contact requirements.

 

 

 

 

 

Are the existing contacts of the interviewees able to satisfy the contact functions preferred by them and indicated as requirements?

 

In the above description we found the differentiated importance of dissimilar contact functions. The role fo the partner in the dialogue over everyday problems and the role of the contact appreciating and acknowledging output excelled. When indicating on the seven-grade scale how far their present contacts satisfy their requirements in the field of their various functions, the existence of a partnerin-discussion was indicated to the same ratio to the earlier expressed preferred importance among the requirements. More than half of the interviewees (Grade 6-7 by 58 %) were found on the top two grades of the scale - among those who felt that they have the proper contact for duscussing their problems. While two third of the interviewees definitely expressed their requirement that their contacts should appreciate and acknowledge their output, only one hird of the interviewees indicated that they have such contacts (Grade 6-7 by 32 %). Namely the requirement for appreciative words went to a considerably higher sample than the ratio of those who receive appreciation from their contacts in the contact network, which in fact means that a significant shortage can be found in the existing contacts, compared to the requirements.

A contrasting result can be seen in the two least preferred areas of the requirements: the requirements for judgement and objective remarks encouraging output and the comparison with the existing contacts regarding satisfaction. The existing contacts encouraging output with evaluation show a slightly higher ration (Grade 6-7 by 25 %) than indicated by the ration of the requirement of judgement by the interviewees. The contacts indicating emotional challenge with objective remarks appear with a similar ratio in the contact network than the ratio expressing an explicit requirement with regard to the importance of such contacts (Grade 6-7 by 25 %). Namely it seems that the interviewees regard both the encouraging remarks and judgement in a "satisfactory stock" among their contacts.

The correlating contact of the variants expressing the requirement for various contact functions and their existence within the contact network also indicate - in addition to the previous conclusions - that the requirements become arranged into contact types, they seem to become linked. Those who wish to "be listened to" also reckon with finding a partner to discuss their problems and vice versa. Those who expect appreciation from their contacts mostly wish to be listened to. Those who prefer objective remarks to emotionally activize them, also highly appreciate the remarks which enourage output. Those who consider emotional assistance of great importance also wish to have partners to be able to understand their problems and listen to their partners to the same extent.

Thus the requirements are differentiated in particular groups. There are some which primarily

1./     long for a partner who understands and appreciates their problems, while others

2./     place emphasis on contacts which motivate encouragement, challenge and achievement and there are who

3./     consider the partner providing emotional support as the most important contact function.

The correlation data also indicated that those who avail themselves of supporting contacts in any field and in any function will most probably find some within their contact network who will satisfy their requirements also in the field of other contact functions. Those who are listened to are most probably emotionally also supported (Corr. 65**) and also finc a partner to discuss their problems (Corr. 69**). If somebody is encouraged by judgement is mostly also emotionally activized by somebody from his circle of contacts (Corr. 52**). Those whose achievement is appreciated usually have a contact who listens to him (Corr. 59**) and supports him emotionally (Corr. 56**).

Presumably part of the existing contacts play a multiplex contact funciton in the life of the university students and on the other hand it can also be stated that those who have assisting contacts in any field are more able to build contacts or are initially socialized in a circle of contacts where they have a greater stock of contacts which is suitable to cover various functions and find somebody to solve all their problems. At the same time the opposite is also true, namely that those university students who are lacking the contact which ensures some contact function frequently do not receive or do not expect contact support in the field of other contact functions.

 

 

The differentiated role of contacts of dissimilar

content played in emotional support

 

The earlier analized six different emotional support contacts were further analized depending on who is primarily reckoned with or what type of contact is hoped for by the interviewees with regard to the various functions in their contact network.

According to the answers the students considered friends (43 %) and partners (19.4 %) as those who simply listen and understand their problems, then the third person in this order was defined as mothers (14 %). There were very few who did not find anybody among their contacts who would listen to their sorrow or joy, or who in an introvert menner would not take this opportunity to share their thoughts with others (5 %).

The contacts of the interviewees who are not simply receptors but genuine partners in discussion over everyday problems and thoughts can also be found among the fiends (45 %) and spouses or cohabiting partners (20 %) followed by university mates (9 %) and fathers (7.5 %). Obiously people primarily share their everyday thoughts with those who they are with day after day. If university students discuss their everyday problems with their parents, they are more reckoning with their fathers and more listen to their opinion than to those of their mother. At the same time a higher ratio than the previous find nobody among their contacts who would be, suitable to discuss their thoughts (7 %). Most probably these latter will also remain alone when making significant decisions frequently requiring an emotional burden.

Compassionate emotional support is provided by friends (27 %) and spouses-partners (24 %) to a similar ratio, followed according to the answers by the parents: primarily by fathers (22 %) then by mothers (14.4 %). Finally the interviewees expect compassionate support from their dominantly "strong contacts" while there is also a high ratio of those who do not receive any spiritual support (7.2 %) /Granovetter, 1976/.

Among the contacts emotionally motivating with objective remarks first we find friends (30 %) then the persons of prestige: fathers (16.5 %) and university professors and teachers (10.5 %). The ratio of those not counting (or not being able to count) on such emotional motivation is high, at least every tenth interviewee (12 %) feels that he has no such contact which would emotionally rouse him with objective remarks, or would encourage challenge and motivate him. Although earlier we also experienced that this function appeared with a low ratio among the requirements.

Compared with the latter the contact encouraging action with criticism and judgement indicates a stronger motivation. In this field fathers (25 %) comprising high prestige within the family and teachers (25 %) lead the order followed by friends (14 %). However every tenth interviewee (10 %) believes not to receive any critical encouragement from anybody and here we can refer to the previous where we found that a similar ratio does not enven request critical encouragement.

Among the emotional contact requirements we found a high desire for the appreciation and evaluation of output. Again fathers (28 %) and professors - teachers (21 %) lead the line among confidential supporters. Friends (15 %) and mothers (12 %) appear with a lower chance among those expressing value evaluation, in this field their prestige seems to be lower among university stuedents and partners can also not be found among the “critics”. We also found a lack of contacts appreciating achievement among more than a few interviewees (7 %).

All this reveals that friendly contacts are of extreme significance among university students and primarily their social-inderstanding function. According to the summary contacts prefering different functions, the second outstanding role is played by fathers, namely primarily in the field of criticism, encouragement, or instructive “prestige-like” contact functions and not or hardly concerning the contact function playing the role of a problem appreciating companion.

The influencing, emotionally motivating, encouraging and controlling role of the partners is on the third place in the summary. As a consequence of the frequently “blinding” close emotional link of spouses and partners they more infrequently formulate objective remarks which would entice the other part to engage in a higher output. With a strong emotional commitment and link partners do not clearly see the task the interviewees have to carry out, occasionally they do not see their faults or under the impact of fear to loose the person, so important for them, they more rarely undertake the role of the “critic”. Thus partners can be more frequently found among those who provide unconditional emotional support, listen to problems and discuss everyday issues, than among those contacts which encourage challenge or undertake functions.

The role of mothers is also particular. Our earlier investigation of national samples indicated the exceeding emotional support of mothers together with the emotionally confidential and compassionate role they play /Cseh-Szombathy, 1979, Utasi, 1991/. Now we experienced that somewhat different from that of the mothers, the contact function of fathers is more stratified among university students particularly concerning the prestiguous opinion linked with everyday questions and encouragement to work and output. This indicates that within the families of university students the paternal prestige is higher than that of mothers and if the interviewees do not exclusively require unconditional understanding, the paternal opinion is more important for them than the maternal one. This is also confirmed in the university student sample where the average schooling level of fathers is higher and if university students desire criticism and objective remarks with regard to their school achievements and ask for a parental opinion they most probably turn to their higher educated father than their mother.

At the same time, according to our investigation, ex functions providing emotional warmth and support is played by mothers to a considerable ratio in present Hungarian families /Utasi, 1994/. However university students represent a particular stratum, and this role does not primarily belong to mothers among them, but to friends and partners. Thus the relationship of university students to their mother indicates a certain difference to that of the national sample. It seems that the maternal emotional compassion - understanding seems to be shared with that of supporting friends and partners.

 

 

The choice of contacts providing emotional

support in some concrete life situations

 

Outlining a few concrete life situations as if supervising the above description we further examined the support expected by university students from their contacts of different content and the dissimilar contact role meant for them. The questions were directed to the opinion of the interviewee which contact he reckons with in the given situation requiring help and who he hopes will primarily provide assistance /ISSP, 1986/.

In the first described life situation the interviewee quarrels with his spouse or partner and he wishes to share the following emotional tension with somebody and wants to speak about it. Almost half of the university interviewees would have first spoken about it with their friend (41 %), while every fourth would have tried to clear the misunderstanding with the partner or spouse, namely with the most concerned one (26 %). The next group would discuss such similar problems with their mother (16 %), perhaps with the sister (16 %), but no other contact was mentioned in the answers.

With regard to a conflict with the partner the second choice of emotional supporters covered close friends (24 %), mothers (24 %), then more distant friends (10 %) and sisters 8 %), and fathers only followed then (6 %), among them contacts considered as confidential in similar emotional situations.

The next life situation referred to a contact resolving a similar tension: If, for any reason the interviewee is depressed, sad or upset - who would he approach with his sorrow? According to the investigation university students would primarily count on the consolation of their partner (44 %), many would first let their hair down require consolation from their mother (11 %). Other type of contact hardly ever appears among those to whom they would speak about the reason of their sorrow.

What ever is the reason of sorrow, the second choice by most was a close friend (27 %), then their mother (20 %), followed by distant friends (12 %). The next in the line was the sister (7.5 %) and only after them were fathers mentioned (5 %). The concrete life situation indicating an emotional crisis presented the outstanding role of contacts which - examining with earlier questions - primarily “listen to” the problems of the interviewee and with whom they can “discuss” their sorrow or joy.

The above two situtations outlined concrete emotional crises and in both cases the role of friends and partners excelled with their emotional supportive function, followed by a lower ratio of the role of mothers and sisters in sharing sorrow or reducing an upset condition. Fathers can hadly be found in a similar situation among the consoling confidants despite the fact that their respect - as it was earlier experienced - is outstanding and they also play a significant role in critical and instructive situations in the field of psychic support and guidance of university students.

When they are facing a significant decision which perhaps has an influence on their entire future life - for example if they want to change their job or move to another part of the country - and they want to ask for somebodys advice, close contacts are also important. With regard to the similarly important decision outlined in the example the leading advice providers are the partners (44 %) and the parents, primarily mothers (27 %), then fathers (11 %). Dissimilarly to the earlied described cases, when university students are preparing decisions of a life-long effect, they less rely on the advice of their friends (7 %). Undoubtedly taking a similarly important decision differs from the earlier examined situations indicating a psychic crisis from the point of fact that basically target-rational and non-emotional issues have to be decised and this is obviously more to be shared with the members of their family than with their friends who emotionally are in fact closer to them in certain situations.

In a similar situation the secondary chosen advisor concerning partners appears with a slightly lower ratio (12 %) while that of mothers (25 %) and fathers (15 %) show a rise. Although the ratio of those chosen in second place among their friends doubles (19 %), the data still indicate that university students primarily reckon with their friends in solving their actual emotional issues. An emotional tension and plan concerning the future are more the concern of parents and partners, thus the role of fathers and mothers essentially overtakes that of friends in similar decisions.

Money lending refers to decisively instrumental, non-emotional contacts. When investigating who we would approach for a major loan university students primarily mention their mother (37 %), then their father (20 %), who hopefully would provide financial aid. Partners are also mentioned to a considerable ratio (17 %), while only a very slight ratio of the interviewees would turn to the other contacts for a major sum of loan. Friends hardly appear here and this only confirms the earlier expounded thoughts, namely that university friendship is hardly an instrumental, dominantly emotional contact. At the same time the considerable ratio of money-lending partners renders it probable that partners are frequently living in a type of economic community (or are compelled to live in such a situation?), thus they come after the parents in the line of those who provide loans.

It should be remarked that according to a ten year earlier national representative survey the majority of Hungarian friendships represented instrumental bonds while the present university friendships were not characterized by the priority of emotions /Utasi, 1990/, and this phenomenon was also confirmed by the studies of the last years analizing recent friendships /Utasi, 1994, Albert, F. - Dávid, B., 1998, Angelusz, R. - Tardos, R. 1998/. It seems that living conditions of university students greatly differ from those a decade ago and to those of the present active population, consequently a stronger emotional motivation operates the friendship of both the university students and the active-age persons. Earlier housebuilding in a “kaláka” team, the “socialist second economy” shaped dominantly target-motivated friendships frequently based on reciprocal work loans. /Sik, E., 1988, Utasi, Á., 1991/. At the same time it is also true that there is more instrumental element in the friendship of the present active-age persons, and emotions play a slighter role than in the friendship of university students.

From among the secondary money lending contacts partners are to be found on the first place (19 %), followed by fathers (15 %), close friends (14 %) and mothers (14 %).

According to the ten years old data of internationally representative surveys the Hungarian sample showed a particular feature, namely that mothers meant the primary “source of money” while in the richer countries the interviewees first turned to their fathers for a more considerable loan /Pahl, R. E., 1984, Utasi, Á., 1991/. It seems that the trend has not changed since, narrow means of the family mostly let mothers handle the family budget, thus also the unified task of decision over the rights and obligations of “economic money handling”. Consequently the parents (mother and father) together represent the dominant source of financial loans for the majority of the questioned university students.

At the same time, in the sample of university students - and compared with earlier national data - the role of banks is considerably less among the loan sources. Most probably the reason is that university students have no real estate securities and therefore banks do not provide loans for them. This renders it unambiguous that university students whose parents are short of funds and cannot provide loans to their children, will most probably remain short of cash and can hardly count on institutional assistance.

 

 

Contact functions and types

 

 During our investigation we experienced that the interviewees place a differing importance on the individual contact functions and we also found that the various contact functions seem to attract eachother, namely we found variants which indicated “related” contact functions. The cluster analysis simultaneously indicating the six contact functions showed a particular differentiation in the contacts of university students and outlined among them three well demarked contact types.

 

a)    Partnership (43.4 %)

A broad circle of the interviewees primarily satisfy their contact necessities with claiming a partner who understands and listens to their problems and shares their everyday worries. The claim of a preferred partner usually refers to the form of contact presuming a closed pair (diad). If we compare the ratio of those belonging to the “partnership” group with the self-identificational index symbolizing the economic circumstances of the family we experience a higher than average level of contact type over the line of “poor” and “lower class”.

 

b)    Short of partnership (6.4 %)

Each variants indicating the six contact functions in the case of those “short of partnership” allow us to believe that their contacts do not satisfy their claims in any field. Although only a relatively few belong to this gorup, their number must not be ignored. The ratio of those, “short of partnership” is highest on the top and bottom of the selfidentificational hierarchy indicating the economic situation of the family. Every six of those who identify themselves as “poor” and every eight of those who consider themselves belonging to the “upper class” are “short of partnership”. While in the case of those with a poorer original background the contradictions concerning integration into the status-mobile intellectual circle burden the building of contacts and make some persons short of partnership, in the case of those who were socialized into the upper class, most probably the higher than average extreme individualism catalizes the “shortage of partnership”.

 

 

c)    Companionship (50.2 %)

Those belonging to the “companionship” group have contacts according to all examined function variants with which they can reckon and who is available in the case of need. There are emotional supporters if needed, strict critics or companionship among the surrounding persons. Most probably many of them live in an open social circle, thus finding somebody for each contact function in their broad contact network. About half of the university students belong to this group. The ratio of the “companionship” gorup finding a companion for each contact function, according to the identificational scale refering to the economic situation of the family, grows parallel with the increasing welfare of the parental family which means that prosperity increases the ratio of companionable individuals with supporters of all emotional functions. Poverty in childhood narrowes the emotionally supportive contact circle of the university students.

 

 

Identificational type of contacts

 

It can be presumed now that there are some who long for contacts in numerous functions but because of their living conditions do not receive them from their surrounding and there are some who based on their living conditions could have a broad circle of contacts but impersonal bonds of differing functions are not or only slightly important. The selfidentificational categorization of the claim and ability of setting up contacts was described with four contact-making type line of thoughts during the investigation. The interviewees indicated on a seven-grade scale the extent they feel one or the other of four contact-making type (1 - not all, 7 - fully) characterizes them /Pines, A. - Aronson, E. 1988/.

The question of the first contact-making type formulated the opinion of those who make contact with ease and are also easily accepted by their surrounding, by their community. About one third of the interviewees (32 %) placed themselves on the top two grades of this scale indicating the “open” type of contact. They identify themselves as open, able to set up and receive the contacts to the full extent. They do not suffer from inhibitions, they do not feel to be a burden to their surrounding with their “forwardness” and they do not feel to be left without company at any time (Average sample: 4.6, Std. dev. 1.6/.

Those who admit an ambivalent attitude toward setting up and maintaining contacts are retiring from the contacts fearing to be insulted. They feel that close contacts would be desirable and live in companionship and a community but they are restrained primarily by the fear of eventual offence or insult which usually are linked with bonds. This fearing and retiring ambivalent feeling is found to be unambiguous by one fifth of the interviewees (Grade 6-7 by 21 %) with regard to their own contact making (Average sample: 3.4, Std dev. 1.9).

The next contact making attitude is admitted, by the ambivalent contact makers similar to the previous group. They would also like to get closer to others, they desire human bonds and contacts but their approach is hindered by their ambivalent scope of emotions. Ambivalence in this group, in contrast to the previous, is not caused by the fear of insult but the fear of refusal. Evaluating themselves on a low level they feel that they are less or not at all important for others. They long for contacts but their contact making is slowed down or hindered by their low self evaluation and lack of self confidence. Almost every fifth of the university students (Grade 6-7 by 19.5 %) identified themselves with this attitude (Average sample: 3.4, Std dev. 1.5).

There is also a particular type of contact which formulates the opinion of those who find the contacts less important and who hold independence particularly from companionship more significant than support, appreciation and care radiating from these contacts. For them it is more important not to depend on others and others should not depend on them. This extreme individual independence desire appeared in the opinion of nearly one tenth of the interviewees (Grade 6-7 by 8.5 %) shaping the contact building of this group. (Average sample: 2.6, Std dev. 1.7)

We examined those who categorized themselves as belonging to the various selfidentificational groups from the point of view which contact function or claim they pointed primarily out from the six different functions. Those who indicated the “open” category most probably find a companion, a supporter, a critic and emotional supportive partner in the field of all six functions. The correlative values refer everywhere to significantly positive contacts with variants measuring existing contact functions.

In the case of those categorized in the other three types with all variants which measured the extent of emotional support and assistance, the correlative values were found to be negative. Namely that those who feel less able to set up contact, to be ambivalent, fearing refusal or insult or emphasizing their independence confine themselves from building contacts will most probably difficult to find (to search for?) a supportive companion than those who believe to be open and suitable to build contacts. This means that the contact selfidentification may shape, in some cases hinder or reduce while in other cases amplify the circle of supporters.

 

 

Negative feelings and the typology of feelings

 

Contact building is frequently hindered by negative feelings and thoughts. Self-evaluation decreases under their impact and occasionally turn the person introvert who without negative thoughts and feelings was earlier open to human contacts.

The investigation composed eleven negative feelings (1) tiredness, (2) frustration, (3) hopelessness, (4) deception, (5) impotency, (6) upsetness, (7) sickly-weakness, (8) worthlessness, (9) lack  of sleep, (10) callousness (burn out feeling) and being (11) without anybody to depend on and searched for the negative feelings and thoughts which most frequently dominate university students. Or if reviewed together what ratio of university students suffer or not suffer from negative feelings according to the variants and data comprising the eleven negative feelings and what proportion of the interviewees are more characterized by a positive or negative attitude. Similarly to the previous the interviewees indicated the frequency of negative feelings on a seven-grade scale (1 - never, 7 - always).

The interviewees selected “tiredness” to the highest ratio of the eleven listed negative feelings (10 %), followed by “lack of sleep” (8 %) and “upset-depressed” mood (8 %) on the highest two grades (Grade 6-7) of the seven-grade scale as the frequently occurring negative feeling-thought of their life. The least negative feelings are deception and physical weakness among those indicated ont the top grades of the scale. The average sample indicates a significant difference between the negative feelings ranging from 2.1 (callousness) to 4.2 (tiredness). From among the mentioned eleven negative thoughts the earlier mentioned “tiredness” (4.2) is followed by “upset” (3.7) and “frustration” (3.5) among the feelings of university students.

From among the eleven negative feelings one quarter of the sample does not meet any one of the negative feelings (23 %), one third indicates 1-2, another third 3-5 negative feelings while every tenth of the interviewees indicate more than 5 different negative feelings with a certain frequency.

The per capita average is 2.4 with regard to frequency of one or the other of the eleven negative feelings described in the entire sample. A certain stratum-difference was experienced when we observed the trend according to the schooling level of fathers (under 8: 3.2, eight classes: 2.2, skilled worker training school: 2.3, matriculation: 2.1, high school 2.5 and university 2.9). With regard to the children of those who did not complete their elementary schooling thus living with a lack of knowledge and a low marketability and the children of graduates living with a better marketability, the average indicating negative feelings is higher than in the average of the entire sample. Namely those who were born in families of the greatest want suffer most from negative feelings together with exactly those who were socialized in the most favourable cultural circle of origin. The extreme poles most probably build a strong self-justificational compulsion for achievement among university students and this pressure generates negative feelings in the indicated groups of origin of the university students.

Based on the cluster analysis made with variants indicating the extent of negative feelings we outlined three types of feelings in the sample: that of the “optimists” (40.9 %), that of the “moderately optimistic” 46.3 %), and that of the “pessimists” (12.8 %).

Comparing the three groups of feelings with the selfidentificational hierarchy of life style with regard to the origin of the family we experienced that “optimists” can be found to a considerably higher ratio than the average among those who are categorized as belonging to the “upper middle class” and “upper class”, namely living under more advantageous cultural and economic circumstances than the average. As the reciprocity of the previous the ratio of “pessimists” - moving upward on the hierarchy of life style towards the “upper class” - gradually decreases while it again rises reaching the top level. Namely following the trend experienced on the summarized scale of negative feelings the ratio of frustrated pessimists again shows a slight rise among those who live under the most favourable circumstances of origin. “Moderately optimists” can be found to an approximately similar ratio on every strata of the selfidentificational style of living hierarchy, on every level of the hierarchy, but their ratio is somewhat lower than the average on the two extreme poles of the hierarchy.

Examining the group proportions according to feelings along the selfidentificational scale indicating the economic situation of the family we find even more characteristic differences between the various levels of the hierarchy. The ratio of “optimists” is unambiguously decreasing when proceding towards the higher levels of prosperity. More than half of those categorizing themselves as poor are placed in the group of “pessimists” gained with cluster analysis. “Moderate optimism” is only weaker than the average in the two extreme strata of the hierarchy concerning possession prosperity origin. In its summary the positive and negative feeling, optimism and pessimism indicate a link both with the income-possession and the style of life of the family.

The feelings, the more positive or more negative attitudes are frequently reflected by the human look but most probably one also well indicated by the picture one carries or believes about one self. In the interest of examining the selfportrait radiating and expressing the feelings we placed seven expressions on the questionnaire - ranging from 1) joyful to 7) sad. They had to indicate the one which they seemed to mostly identify themselves with. With this method the university students identified themselves on a seven grade joyfulness-sadness scale.

Half of the interviewees (47 %) idetified themselves with the two bottom grade of joyfulness and their ratio was similar to that who - based on the cluster analysis made with the variants of negative feelings - were placed among the “optimists” (40 %). The two faces expressing the saddest feelings were indicated by fewer interviewees (2.5 %) than their ration among the “pessimists” 12.8 %) revealed with the cluster analysis of the scales of negative feelings. Thus university students see themselves rather cheer ful than sad and every sixth university student identified himself (15 %) with the face expressing the most merry feeling. Even the selfportrait of those who indicate various negative feelings radiates more joy and optimism than suggested by their thoughts.

 

 

Some similarities and differences in the contacts and feelings

of Israeli and Hungarian university students

 

The sample of the survey in Israel was also comprised in 1999 (N=150), similarly to that in Hungary, although the number of elements is much higher in the Hungarian sample (N=751). At present the two samples are only suitable to compare a few dimensions; the investigation will be continued and the possibilities of comparison will be extended in the future.

Using the previously outlined self-categorizational situations we compared the contact-making abilities of the university students of both countries with the ratio of those categorized as “secure attachment”, “anxious ambivalent”, “avoidant but not by choice” and “avoidant by choice” types. All four types were evaluated on the scale from 1 to 7 according to what extent the interviewees found the given attitude in contact making characteristic of thenselves (1 - at all, 7 - to the full extent).

A similar trend of the secure open contact making can be found in both countries. Gradually more people voted for the higher values, meaning that in both countries many university students feel that they are open to make easy contact with others. At the same time there is a somewhat higher ratio in Hungary among those who feel themselves unambiguously open (Grade 6-7) than among the Israeli students. The average values also show that somewhat more people indicated higher values to the type representing open human contacts in the Hungarian sample (4.6) than in the Israeli sample (4.3).

Observing together the samples of the two countries with regard to the ambivalent contact type fearing offence we find the reciprocal of the previous trend for gradually less people voted for the higher values in the sample of both countries. This indicates that the majority in both countries do not consider themselves as being characters who retreat from contacts or show an attitude being afraid of an offence. A greater ratio in both countries categorized themselves as belonging to the bottom three grades of the scale and did not or hadly identified themselves with the indicated ambivalent attitude. At the same time there is a considerably higher ratio in the Hungarian sample of those to definitely feeling to belong to the ambivanlent contact making type fearing insult (Grade 6-7), than in the Israeli sample. The index average is also somewhat higher in the Hungarian (3.4) than in the Israeli (3.3) sample namely the ambivalent retiring contact attitude fearing insult in Hungary is higher than among the university students in Israel.

The lower grades of the “avoidant but not by choice” type, namely among those who consider themselves of low value show a considerable ratio of interviewees, from the sample of both countries, then on the middle grades we find more from Israel and finally on the top grades which indicate the type of “avoidant but not by choice” again shows more Hungarian than Israeli students. The average point value also confirms this for the average is considerably higher in the Hungarian (3.4) than in the Israeli (2.8) sample. Thus the award ambivalent attitude identifying itself with a low self-value is more characteristic to the Hungarians than to the Israeli students.

The type of “avoidant by choice”, retreating from contact building is also sharply separating the samples of both countries according to the value of points: to a broad group which refuses the extremely individualistic contact type, or at least evaluates it to belong to a very low level (pont 1-3) and a narrower group which giving their vote to one of the top points indicated that they greatly identify themselves with the outlined informal independence. Hungarian university students refused (with point 1) the contact denying attitude prefering independence to a great proportion while compared to the Israeli, Hungarians placed themselves to a double proportion on the top grade (7) of the scale, namely among those prefering definite independence. This may lead to the conclusion that there is a contradiction within the Hungarian sample. However in the summary the top grades (Grade 6-7) of prefering independence and refusing contacts show a higher ration in Israel than in Hungary. This is also indicated by the average value of the index, which is somewhat higher in the Israeli (2.7) than in the Hungarian (2.58) sample.

The comparison of the contactbuilding types obviously indicated that not withstanding the extremely individual contact type prefering idependence and refusing contacts - the Hungarian students identified themselves with every type to a greater extent than the Israeli students. Individualism greatly accompanies civilizational development and appear a higher level of satisfying requirements. The investigation does not provide the possibility to reveal deeper connections with regard to the phenomenon. Nevertheless independence from the contacts, the stronger affirmation of informality is characteristic of the Israeli students while a relatively considerable group of such persons can also be found among the Hungarian students. At the same time their entire proportion is not prominently high in any of the two samples. It can be stated that the preference of the contacts is mostly stronger on the level of higher prosperity and civilization than the desire for individual independence.

The comparison of negative feelings, of frustration and the variant measuring the feeling of callousness also indicated considerable differences in the psyche of university students in both countries. The greatest difference beween the countries was indicated by the index measuring the feeling of depression. There is a high ratio among Israeli students who never or only rarely met this feeling while the ratio among Hungarian students who frequently experience depression is higher (Israel: 2.3, Hungary 3.7).

The highest grades of the variant indicating most negative feelings represent more Hungarians than Israeli students meaning that the majority of negative feelings are more correlated to themselves by Hungarians than by Israelis. However two of the negative values indicate a stronger Israeli identification: “tiredness” (average values: Israel - 4.4, Hungary - 4.2) which can described as the weakest negative feeling among the examined ones and on the other hand the feeling of “callousness” (average values: Israel - 2.9, Hungary - 2.1), which compared to the previous indicates the strongest negative feeling. The top grades of both these indices show more Israeli than Hungarian students.

If we reduced the variants indicating the 11 negative feelings into a single scale and examined the national average of the heaped, reduced index measuring the negative feelings we find that the value of the negative feeling per capita is higher in the Hungarian sample (Hungary: average 29.4, Std. dev. 8.2) than in the Israeli sample (Israel: average 26.9, scattering 7.4). Even according to the averages the negative feelings have a more powerful effect on the Hungarian students than on the Israelis.

The selfcategorized examination of the types of contact building indicated that the various groups and strata of interviewees in both countries placed a different importance on the contacts and the contacts of different content usually provide help for the sutdents in different dimensions. In order to compare the most important contacts of the different functions of the contact network - using the above described life situations - we searched for the persons the Israeli and Hungarian students would primarily expect to help.

For resolving the emotional crisis - as it was earlied indicated - and for clearing the tension following a conflict among spouses or partners we searched for the contact the interviewees would primarily select. In both countries the same confidant contact was selected: primarily close friends (Hungary - 41.3, Israel - 40.6 %), followed by the partner (Israel - 29.7 %, Hungary - 25.9 %), with whom the conflict would be directly cleared and attempt to solve the conflict with the concerned person. However a somewhat higher ratio of the Israeli students would turn to their partner than the Hungarians. In the indicated critical situation, following the partners, most students would approach the female members of their family and primarily their mother (Hungary - 16,1 %, Israel - 9.4 %), who would be approached particularly by the Hungarians for emotional assistance, more so than the Israelis.

A similar proportion of students would approach their sisters in a confidential conflict in both countries. Fathers can be infrequently found among the confidants in both countries in a similar case. Nevertheless slightly more Israelis would approach their father with their sorrow than in Hungary. A psychologist, psychiatrist, family advisor or a priest can rarely be found both with regard to the Israeli and Hungarian sample. There is hardly any university student who would expect consolation from them in their similar problem.

In the case of upsetness or sorrow induced not by a partnership but for any other reason, a high proportion of those can be seen in most countries who turn for consolation to their partner. The emotional assistance by the partners is particularly strong in the Israeli sample (Israel - 52 %, Hungary - 44 %). However their high ratio, compared with other contacts is leading the list in the Hungarian sample. In the case of upsetness friends are following the partners in both countries (Israel - 25.2 %, Hungary - 32.4 %) with regard to consolation. In the case of upsetness and depression there is a particularly high ratio of Hungarian students who would turn to their friends, but there is also a slightly higher ratio of those who in the Hungarian sample would turn to their mother in a similar situation (Israel - 7.9 %, Hungary - 10.8 %) for emotional consolation. There is a relatively small proportion in both countries of those who cannot and do not want to turn to anybody for consolation in the case of sorrow or upsetness. There are very few in both samples who would turn to their father for consolation, just like in the case of professional psychic helps.

The choice for a confidant, the line of prefered contacts in an emotional critical situation indicates that the female members of the family - particularly mothers and sisters - provide more emotional support in both countries than the male members of the family. According to the data in both countries, in the case of upsetness and depressed mood - students dominantly turn to three of their contacts for an emotional help, namely they trust their partner, close friend or mother. This trio means practically the emotional supportive contacts for the university students in both countries.

More than the previous is the circle of confidants polarized if the students search for a partner in consultation with regard to an important decision. If they turn to somebody prior to an important, life-effecting decision, it is primarily the partner in both countries (Israel - 46 %, Hungary - 44 %). The advisory confidential contacts then indicate a considerable difference in the two countries. The ratio of those who would turn for advice to their mother is much higher in the Hungarian (27.2 %) than in the Israeli (8.7 %) sample. Fathers and close friends indicate the next two contacts while fathers (Hungary - 11.1 %, Israel - 16.5 %) and friends (Israel - 14.9 %, Hungary - 7.5 %) are more approached by Israeli students than by Hungarians.

The contact providing a considerable financial loan was the only contact function where we did not investigate primarily emotional support but a dominantly insturmental assistance. Most probably as the consequence of the difference in the economic order of the two countries, contacts chosen for loan also indicated a significant difference. A conspicuously high ratio of Hungarian students would primarily turn to their mother (Israel - 15 %, Hungary - 37.5 %) while the broadest circle of the Israelis would ask their father (Israel - 32.5 %, Hungary - 20 %) for a loan. Idicating the parents together (Israel - 14.3 %, Hungary - 7.1 %) shows a slightly higher ratio among the Israeli students would ask for a loan from their partner than the Hungarians but essentially more Israeli students would (or could) turn to a bank (Israel - 18.3 %, Hungary - 4 %) than in Hungary. In fact a bank would hardly every provide a loan to university students as they have no real estate securities while according to the answers by Israeli university students, banks may mean a source of loan, for these banks do not consider real estate as the only security but most probably consider the “intellectual asset, capital” as a security against a loan.

Because of the shortage of funds, according to the Hungarian sample, the financial means are concentrated in the hands of mothers and an eventual loan can only come from a “saving” from these. On the level of a higher prosperity the right over the financial means is more in the hands of the father where the loan can be provided from the balance between the income and the expenses. Partners in Israel (Israel - 6.3 %, Hungary - 17.4 %) are able to more strongly retain their economic independence while the Hungarian university student partners, because of the shortage of financial means are more compelled to mutually economically also assist eachother than in Israel.

In their entirety the contact system of Israeli and Hungarian university students is very similar and this also refers to their claim and attitude towards the contacts. However, based on the comparative data a pronounced difference appeared in the investigation. The first definite difference is in the lower selfevaluation of the Hungarian university students, also being more timid, and less able to make contact. On the other hand individualism is more characteristic among the Israeli students, accompanied by the prefered desire for independence and the wish to deny contacts. Thus there is a higher ratio of Israeli university students who believe not to necessitate human supportive contacts or emotional assistance.

Among the Hungarian university students there is a high ratio of those who live in a negative sphere of psyche and there is a particularly high ratio of depressed mood among them. Summarizing the negative feeling measured in various examinations it became clear that more Hungarian students suffer under the burden of negative thoughts and feelings than in Israel, while it also became obvious that - despite the above findings - those suffering from the gravest negative feelings, those who frequently consider themselves as “callous” appear with a double ratio in the Israeli than in the Hungarian sample. This is presumably the consequence of the higher extreme desire of Israeli students for individualism.

Mostly the emotional assistance of friends, partners and mothers are thought of in both countries in the case of an emotional crisis, they are most frequently mentioned among the confidants. In an emotional crisis more Israeli students count on their partner and father, while more Hungarians are looking for the emotional help of their mother. A similar difference is indicated with regard to instrumental supportive contacts: In Israel the role of fathers and extra-family help is stronger while in Hungary the instrumental assistance of mothers and partners - spouses is more frequent.

 

 

 

HIVATKOZOTT IRODALOM

 

 

Albert, F. - Dávid, B. (1998): A barátokról. (About Friends) In: Kolosi T. - Tóth I. Gy. - Vukovich Gy. (eds.): Társadalmi Riport, 1998 (Social Report, 1998) (257-276. p.)

Angelusz, R. - Tardos, R. (1998): A kapcsolathálózati erőforrások átrendeződésének tendenciái a kilencvenes években. In: Kolosi T. - Tóth I. Gy. - Vukovich Gy. (eds.): Társadalmi Riport, 1998. (237-256. p.)

Blau, P. (1982): Structural Sociology and Network Analyses. In: Marsden V. and Nan Lin (eds.): Social Structure and Network Analyses. Beverly Hills, London

Cseh-Szombathy, L. (1979): Családszociológiai problémák és módszerek. (Family sociology. Problems and methods.) Gondolat, Budapest, 1979.

Granovetter, M. (1976): Network Sampling. American Journal of Sociology 81.

Halbwachs, M. (1913): La classe ouvričre et les niveaux de vie. Alcan, Paris (387-455. p.)

Losonczi, Á. (1977): Az életmód az időben, a tárgyakban és az értékekben. Gondolat Kiadó, Budapest

Maslow, A. (1954): Motivation and Personality. New York

Pahl, R. E. (1984): Division of Labour. Oxford, Basic Blackwell

Pines, A. - Aronson, A. (1988): Career burnout. Macmillen, London

Sik, E. (1988): Az örök kaláka. (“Kalaka” for ever) Gondolat Kiadó, Budapest

Utasi, Á. (1984): Életstílus-csoportok, fogyasztási preferenciák. (Lifestyle groups, consumption preferences) Rétegződés-modell vizsgálat V. TTI, Budapest

Utasi, Á. (1990): Friendships. In: Andorka, R. - Kolosi, T. - Vukovich Gy. (eds.): Social Report, 1990. (339-346. p.)

Utasi, Á. (1991): Az interperszonális kapcsolatok néhány nemzeti sajátosságáról. (Some Hungarian peculiarities of interpersonal contacts.) In: Utasi Á. (szerk.): Társas kapcsolatok. (Interpersonal relations) Gondolat Kiadó, Budapest (169-193. p.)

Utasi, Á. (1994): Upgrading of Interpersonal Relations and the Contact Capital of the New Elite in Hungary. Paper presented at the International Social Network Conference, Washington, New Orleans

Weber, M. (1987): Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft. Tübingen, 1976.