“‘They Understand What You’re Going Through’: Experientially Similar Others, Anticipatory Stress, and Depressive Symptoms,” by Assistant Professor of Sociology Matthew Grace, was recently published in the journal Society and Mental Health.
The article presents the results of a study in which Grace found that pre-medical students whose support networks include a greater proportion of pre-medical peers over time report fewer depressive symptoms.
However, he also found that among pre-meds who experience greater worry about failing to achieve medical school admission, the addition of pre-medical peers is detrimental to their mental health.
Using interview data, Grace identified two explanations for this phenomenon. “First, pre-medical peers can be harmful to one’s mental health when premeds make social comparisons to peers who are viewed as more academically driven or successful than themselves.
“Second,” Grace said, “through ‘stress accentuation’ pre-medical peers might remind an individual of looming medical school requirements, or exaggerate the negative consequences of failing to get into medical school.”