Published online by Cambridge University Press: 21 February 2012
Accumulated evidence suggests that social support is influenced by genetic and environmental factors. However, there are little data that examine this issue from Asian samples. We reported results from a preliminary study that examined familial effects on social support in a Chinese adult twin sample. We administered a 10-item social support instrument that measures three dimensions of social support (i.e., objective support, subjective support, and utilization of support) developed for the Chinese population. Two hundred forty-two same-sex twin pairs, where both members of the pair completed the personal interview, were included in the final analysis. Structural equation modeling was used to estimate additive genetic (A), shared environmental (C), and nonshared environmental (E) effects on each dimension of social support. Familial factors (A+C) explained 56.63% [95% CI = 45.48–65.72%] and 42.42% [95% CI = 29.93–53.25%] of the total phenotypic variances of subjective support and utilization of support, respectively. For the objective support, genetic effects did not exist, but common environmental effect explained 37.56% [95% CI = 26.17–48.28%] of the total phenotypic variances. Neither gender nor age effects were seen on any dimension of social support. Except for objective support, genetic factors probably influence variation in subjective support and utilization of support. Shared environmental factors may influence all dimensions of social support.