Personal Relationships: Implications for Clinical and Community Psychology

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

Chapter 1
Weaving Social Support and
Relationships Together

Hoda Badr and Linda K. Acitelli

University of Houston

Steve Duck and Walter J. Carl

University of lowa

In the 25 years since it first appeared as a topic of interest to the academic community, social support has become a leading area of research. Researchers and clinicians alike have made many strides toward understanding the role it plays in individual health and well-being (Acitelli & Antonucci, 1994; Cutrona & Suhr, 1994; Joseph, Williams, & Yule, 1992; Slack & Vaux, 1988; Vaux, 1988). At the same time, we know that not all types of social support are necessarily perceived as good and that greater quantities of social support are not always better (Coyne, Ellard, & Smith, 1990; Coyne & DeLongis, 1986; Dakof & Taylor, 1990). Similarly, some people value certain types of social support more than others and situations and individual differences can affect how support is provided, perceived, and received (Lakey & Cassady, 1990; Sarason, Pierce, & Sarason, 1990; Sarason, Sarason, & Shearin, 1986). However, despite these findings, and despite over 5000 research articles available on the topic, the true nature of the construct of social support remains vague. Researchers have identified the phenomenon and catalogued its component parts, but have not really reached the point where it is fully understood how social support works, what sets it in motion, and how it unfolds. In seeking to advance the conceptualization of social support, we suggest some ways in

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