Master's Theses

Date of Award

Fall 1991

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology

Advisor

Richard P. Schellenberg

Abstract

Most studies in social support research have focused on social support buffering the negative effects of stressful life events, and social support contributing to well-being independently of the effects of stressors. However, social support research has largely ignored the role of social support in promoting the beneficial effects of pleasant life events. The general problem of the present research was to examine relationships between positive life events, social support, and positive aspects of well -being by addressing the following three hypotheses: pleasant life event s are positively related to positive aspects of well-being; social support is positively related to positive aspects of well-being; and social support enhances the beneficial effects of pleasant events on well -being. In part, the significance of this study relates to the fact that most social support research has focused on how social support suppresses the undesirable effects of stressful events with respect to the negative aspects of well-being. In contrast, the key focus of the present research was on the role that social support plays in the positive domain of well-being. The present study involved having a sample of 106 introductory psychology students a t a small Midwestern university complete a packet of self -report measures. This packet included measures of (a) well-being, (b) pleasant events, and (c) social support. Subjects were asked to respond to measures of well-being by indicating their mood and perceived quality of life for the past several weeks (i.e., the month of April). Subjects then responded to the pleasant events measures with respect to the frequency of these events and satisfaction from these events during the last three weeks of March; and, finally, subjects were requested to respond to a social support measure by indicating their perceived available social support during the same three-week period. To test the first two hypotheses, analyses were performed that examined the relationships between (a) pleasant events and positive aspects of well being, and (b) social support and positive aspects of well-being. Multiple regression analyses were conducted for the third hypothesis to determine interactive effect s and additive effects between these variables in order to assess whether social support enhances the beneficial effects of pleasant events on well-being. Results included the finding that higher levels of perceived available social support were uniformly associated with higher levels of well-being; and, somewhat less consistently, higher levels of pleasant events were associated with higher levels of well-being. There was negligible evidence that social support had any interactive, enhancing effect on the positive relationship between pleasant events and well-being. However, the results lent partial support to the third hypothesis by indicating that social support had some additive, enhancing effect s of this relationship. Plots of these effects suggested that social support during March increased the beneficial effects of pleasant events on the subjects' positive mood (vigor) during the month of April. These additive effects were observed irrespective of whether the specific mode of social support was tangible support, appraisal support, self- esteem support, or belonging support. Similar additive, enhancing effects were not observed when well-being was indexed by a negative mood score or by a quality of life measure.

Rights

Copyright 1991 Amy M. Jacobs

Comments

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