Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Direct and Indirect Effects of Social Support on Psychological Well-Being

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Direct and Indirect Effects of Social Support on Psychological Well-Being

Article excerpt

The aim of this study was to investigate the direct and indirect effects of social support on psychological well-being. Social support was evaluated under two different categories which were named as Aid-Related and Appreciation-Related Social Support. The first category was more related to potential for receiving help from others when needed, and being cared for by others, while the latter category was more related to being recognized by others as an efficient source of help and reassurance of worth. Undergraduate university students (N = 342) served as subjects, and results revealed that aid-related social support and psychological well-being (i.e., alleviated depression symptoms) association was partially mediated by experiencing fewer life stresses. On the other hand, appreciation-related social support had a direct effect on psychological well-being. Implications of these results are discussed.

In general, there seems to be strong evidence for the link between lack of social support and the risk of psychopathology, particularly in the case of affective disorders (Monroe & Steiner, 1986; Solomon, 1985). Depressed people tend to have less social support, report less contact with friends, have fewer friends nearby who can help, and have less satisfaction with friends and relatives (Flaherty, Gaviria, Black, Altman, & Mitchell, 1983; Leavy, 1983). It is argued that support can be related to overall well-being because it provides individuals with positive affect, a sense of predictability (experiences of mastery and control), and recognition of self-worth and self-esteem (Cohen & Wills, 1985; Rodin & Salovey, 1989).

Cutrona and her colleague (Cutrona & Russell, 1987; Russell & Cutrona, 1984) assess general perceived social support on the basis of 6 provisions defined by Weiss (1974). Among these 6 provisions reliable alliance, attachment, guidance, and social integration comprise being informed and assisted, and the remaining two are the feelings of belongingness and being cared for. Thus these first four provisions are the ones that one would like to access when confronted with a problem. Hence, in the present study, the support areas encompassed by these four provisions will be called "Aid-Related Social Support". On the other hand, opportunity for nurturance and reassurance of worth are the provisions that are more related with feelings of self-worth and competence. Thus, in this study the support areas encompassed by these two provisions will be called "AppreciationRelated Social Support". Consequently, Appreciation-Related Social Support stresses providing support rather than receiving it, while Aid-Related Social Support stresses the provisions one would like to access when confronted with a problem.

These two categories may follow different paths to maintain one's well-being. For Aid-Related Social Support, the association between social support and psychological well-being may not be a direct one. Aid-Related Social Support should be particularly important for struggling with negative life Stressors. Through receiving Aid-Related Social Support, people may begin to deal with negative life events before they intensify and multiply; hence they may experience fewer life Stressors and this will result in psychological well-being. Furthermore, in the long run, with the establishment of this coping style, this kind of support may decrease the probability of experiencing some controllable life stresses, which may in turn again increase psychological well-being.

On the other hand, Appreciation-Related Social Support is largely related with one's self-esteem (Cutrona & Russell, 1987), thus this kind of support is expected to be directly linked with psychological well-being. That is, providing help to others may enhance one's positive mood and thus directly enhance one's psychological health, not necessarily through the experience of life stresses.

Thus, appreciation-related help providers may develop a sense of worth and capability which are directly associated with psychological well-being. …

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