Master's Theses


Advanced Education Programs

Degree Name

Education Specialist (Ed.S)


The purpose of the present field study was to examine the relationships between controllability of stressful events and helpfulness ratings of different types of social support. The method of the research involved asking 87 college students enrolled in spring session classes to complete a packet of questionnaires concerning stressful situations and social support. The subjects were asked to identify the most stressful situation that they had encountered during the past semester. Two of the questionnaires were designed to obtain helpfulness ratings for different types of received and preferred social support with reference to the identified stressors. Another questionnaire measured the subjects’ appraisals of the degree of controllability of the stressors. Correlation coefficients were computed to test three hypotheses that were based on the Cutrona-Russell model for optimal matching between types of stressors and social support (Cutrona, 1990; Cutrona & Russell, 1990). These hypotheses were that there would be positive associations between (a) uncontrollability of a stressor and the helpfulness of emotional support, (b) controllability of a stressor and the helpfulness of instrumental support, and (c) controllability of a stressor and the helpfulness of esteem support. Results failed to provide support for the first hypothesis. Two of twelve correlations between controllability scores and helpfulness ratings for instrumental support were significant and in the predicted direction, thus providing slight support for the second hypothesis. Of six coefficients relevant to the third hypothesis, only one involved a significant, predicted correlation between controllability scores and helpfulness ratings for esteem support. Hence, the results were also regarded as providing only slight support for the third hypothesis. Supplementary results indicated that there was a positive relationship between the support that others provided the subjects and the support that they preferred to receive.


Richard P. Schellenberg

Date of Award

Summer 1994

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


© 1994 Lacy M. Giebler


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