Master's Theses

Date of Award

Fall 1991

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology

Advisor

Richard P. Schellenberg

Abstract

This thesis studied relationships between social support and the adaptive outcomes of mood, perceived competence, and self-efficacy for individuals who served in a care-giving role for adults with mental retardation. First, the study hypothesized a negative relationship between social support and dysphoric mood. Secondly, a positive relationship was predicted between social support and vigor, a positive mood state. The third hypothesized relationship was that there would be a positive association between social support and perceived competence. Finally, a positive relationship between social support and generalized self-efficacy was also predicted. The present research also sought to answer the question "Which types of social support are more strongly associated with each of the adaptive outcomes?”. A sample of 94 persons employed in direct care positions in a community-based agency that serves adults with mental retardation were recruited to complete a series of self-report questionnaires that assessed the above relationships. These questionnaires included a measure that indexed the frequency of a variety of socially supportive acts and a measure of appraised social support specific to the work environment. The adaptive outcome measures involved asking subjects to respond to questionnaires that indexed perceived competence, generalized self-efficacy, and predominant mood levels during the past month. Results were obtained that provided partial support for the first hypothesis. These findings indicated that dysphoric mood of caregivers was negatively associated with the extent to which they (a) perceived that fellow employees were friendly and supportive of one another, (b) perceived that supervisors were supportive of employees and encouraged employees to be mutually supportive, and (c) were concerned and committed to their jobs . The second and third hypotheses were not supported inasmuch as the results evidenced no relationships between social support and vigor, and between social support and perceived competence. Inconsistent with the fourth hypothesis, positive relationships were observed between socially supportive acts involving direct guidance, feedback, and cognitive information and the adaptive outcome of generalized self-efficacy. When all observed support-out come relationships were examined for differences, no one type of social support was found to be more strongly associated with adaptive outcomes than any other type(s) of social support. Supplementary analyses revealed interdepartmental differences with respect to the above relationships between social support and dysphoric mood and between social support and generalized self-efficacy in that these relationships were not observed in all departments of the community-based agency. These differences suggested that observed relationships between these variables may be specific to certain work setting characteristics; however, the present findings yielded no clear indication of what work setting characteristics might have accounted for the between department differences. Further supplementary analyses involving the total sample indicated that the clarity of policies and expectations and the task orientation (emphasis on planning, efficiency, and getting the job done) of the caregivers work climate were both negatively associated with dysphoric mood; the work pressure of this environment, on the other hand, was positively associated with dysphoric mood.

Rights

Copyright 1991 Sharon M. Schwarz

Comments

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