Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Despite the importance that is attributed to both social support and coping in determining psychological and somatic health outcomes, little is known about the relationship between social support and coping. It has been suggested that one way social support may work to protect one from stress-induced illness is through facilitating the coping of the person under stress. Recently, Thoits (1986) proposed that social support be reconceptualized as coping assistance because of the similar typologies of social support and coping. Do the kinds of social support one receives have a relationship to the way one copes with a stressful situation? A community sample of 85 women and 34 men, ages 18 to 79, completed self-report questionnaires for the investigation of relationships between social support and coping. The participants were first asked to describe their most stressful situation they had experienced in the past six months. Participants then completed the Support As Coping Assistance Measure (SACAM) in which subjects indicated the quality of assistance received from both persons helpful and unhelpful , the Interpersonal Support Evaluation List (Cohen , S., Mermelstein, R. , Kamarck , T. , & Hoberman , H. , 1985) , A Support Network List (Stokes , 1983), and the Coping Mechanism Scale (McCrae & Costa , 1986) that included the Ways of Coping (Folkman & Lazarus , 1985) . It was hypothesized in this study that more desirable components of social support would be associated with more mature coping responses in dealing with a stressful situation. Conversely, it was expected that less desirable aspects of social support would be associated with more immature coping responses. Further, appraisal and tangible support were hypothesized to be positively related to problem-focused coping, whereas emotional support was hypothesized to be negatively associated with emotion-focused coping. Overall, the results of the study supported a strong linkage between social support and coping. These results are consistent with the notion that social support influences the way a person copes. The major findings included that those who had more desirable supportive resources were more likely to cope with stressful situations in more mature ways. Conversely, persons having less desirable supportive resources were more likely to cope in more immature ways when dealing with a stressful situation. Appraisal Support was strongly related to Problem- focused Coping. Emotional Support was negatively related with Emotion-focused Coping, characterized by persons avoiding the problem or distancing themselves from others.


Richard P. Schellenberg

Date of Award

Fall 1987

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


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