Personal Relationships: Implications for Clinical and Community Psychology

By Barbara R. Sarason; Steve Duck | Go to book overview

Chapter 6
Distinguishing the
Theoretical Functions of
Social Ties: Implications for
Support Interventions

Kenneth Heller

Indiana University

Karen S. Rook

University of California — Irvine

The goal of this chapter is to foster a conceptual understanding of the processes by which supportive relationships operate. We believe that it is time to step back from arguments about micro-level facets of support processes (i.e., main versus buffering effects, instrumental aid versus emotional support, the potency of positive versus negative aspects of social relationships) to a broader discussion of theoretical templates that can explain the diverse findings in the support intervention literature. Periodic calls have been issued for greater specification of the mechanisms by which supportive relationships influence health and well-being (Heller, 1990; Heller & Swindle, 1983; Rook & Dooley, 1985; Sarason, Sarason, & Pierce, 1990; Thoits, 1985). Attacking the problem piecemeal, however, has had limited success in the absence of overarching theoretical constructs. For example, there is an active debate currently about the differential impact

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