Primary-Group Support Systems of the Aged

George R. Peters, Danny R. Hoyt, Nicholas Babchuk, Marvin Kaiser, Yuko Iijima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations


This article examines whether the instrumental and affectual support provided the elderly differs among informal social support groups. Cantor's hierarchical-compensatory model postulates an order of preference in the choice of support group regardless of the type of aid sought. Litwak's task-specific model predicts that older people turn to different support groups depending on the type of assistance needed. Our test of these two models indicates that certain network members are more likely to be selected regardless of whether the assistance needed is instrumental or affective. The elderly turn primarily to the spouse followed by adult children, friends, siblings, and “other relatives” in that order. When lacking one of these categories of intimates, no compensatory principle operates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)392-416
Number of pages25
JournalResearch on Aging
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1987


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

Cite this

Peters, G. R., Hoyt, D. R., Babchuk, N., Kaiser, M., & Iijima, Y. (1987). Primary-Group Support Systems of the Aged. Research on Aging, 9(3), 392-416.