A Latent Class Analysis of Adolescents’ Social Support: Contextual Alignment, Unrelated Information, and the Importance of Out-of-School Time

Ryan D. Heath, Beighley H. Thornock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During adolescence, youth may receive social support from multiple sources, including families, school staff, peers, and organized activities during out-of-school time (OST). Drawing from theories of social support and optimal matching, this study aimed to identify patterns of adolescents' social support across four social contexts, and the associations of these patterns with educational and employment outcomes. Using data from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (N = 16,197), latent class analysis was used to identify patterns of social support across indicators of informational and appraisal support. Six classes were identified, and counter to hypotheses, classes varied not by the sources of support, but instead by the types of support and by OST participation. Levels of social support were similar across the four social contexts - demonstrating a "contextual alignment." Higher informational support across classes appeared unrelated to educational and employment outcomes. Instead, classes with higher appraisal support and OST participation were associated with stronger educational and employment outcomes. Findings highlight the importance of both appraisal support and OST participation for adolescents' developmental trajectories.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalResearch in Human Development
StatePublished - 2022

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