Entries in social support (7)


Romeo and Juliet Would Have Broken up…Quickly

We all have that one friend who is in a terrible relationship with a person whom you simply cannot stand. You know what I mean, the on-again off-again relationship…the one where your friend/family member is WAY too good for the person that they’re dating. The kind of relationship where the couple constantly argues, makes up, then starts another argument as they’re in the middle of making up. As a friend or family member it’s exhausting to watch someone go through that cycle. But even more exhausting is the fact that you have to deal with a person (your friend’s partner) you don’t like! And no matter how many “talks” you have with your friend it feels like they just won’t listen to your advice. Well it might feel that way, but according to the research your disapproval is actually making the relationship worse…which is great if you’re rooting for a breakup.

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When Friends' "Help" Hurts

It has been well-documented that perceived support is associated with better health and well-being. Knowing that you’ll have someone there when you need them is a great comfort. However, the effects of actually getting help from others are mixed. When it works, support makes us feel good and can have tremendously positive effects on our lives. But other times it doesn’t help, and can even make us feel worse. So when is support from our loved ones well-received and when does it backfire?

There are several reasons why support may not be effective. Sometimes the people supporting us aren’t that good at providing the right kind of support. Another possibility is that receiving support makes the recipient feel indebted to the provider, leading to negative feelings. And finally receiving help could be a blow to self-esteem.

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Stronger Relationships Make For A Stronger You

One thing that relationship research has taught us is that good relationships are good for us. Many studies have demonstrated that solid relationships are associated with better health and longer life. In fact, having strong relationships is a better predictor of mortality than any other healthy lifestyle behavior.1 But why are relationships so beneficial? A new review of the research by Brooke Feeney and Nancy Collins2 unlocks the secrets of how good relationships help us flourish. 

According to Feeney and Collins, there are two ways for us to thrive in life: 1) successfully coping with adversity, and 2) pursuing personal goals and opportunities for growth. Strong relationships can help with both. 

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Got a Cold? Think Hugs, Not Drugs

Getting sick isn’t fun. To see if social support helps combat illness, researchers interviewed 406 healthy adults each day for two weeks about whether they were hugged that day. Researchers then exposed participants to the common cold and assessed participants’ mucus secretions, congestion, and antibodies present in their blood over the next few weeks. Participants who received more hugs were less likely to become infected with the cold and experienced less nasal congestion. Hugs were especially important on particularly stressful or tense days. So the next time you feel yourself coming down with a cold…think hugs, not drugs.

Cohen, S., Janicki-Deverts, D., Turner, R. B., & Doyle, W. J. (2015). Does hugging provide stress-buffering social support? A study of susceptibility to upper respiratory infection and illness. Psychological Science.


Can You Give Too Much Emotional Support? Relationship Matters Podcast 35

In the 35th installment of Relationship Matters, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Eran Bar-Kalifa (Bar-Ilan University, Israel) talks about his research on how receiving emotional support from one’s partner comes with downsides.

Bar-Kalifa, together with Professor Eshkol Rafaeli (Bar-Ilan University & Columbia University), studied couples’ relationships intensively for about a month. The researchers predicted that receiving less support than expected on a given day would be associated with worsened moods on those days. And this was indeed the case. Interestingly, however, they also predicted (and found) that receiving emotional support beyond what was expected on a given day had no additional positive emotional benefit for that day.

How can it be that providing emotional support beyond what is expected has no positive benefit?

For the full story, listen to the podcast here.

Check out the original article here (courtesy of SAGE publications).


Does How Couples Meet Matter? Relationship Matters Podcast #34

In the 34th installment of SAGE’s Relationship Matters podcast, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Dr. Sharon Sassler (Cornell University) discusses her recent research on how couples meet.

Sassler, and co-author Amanda Jayne Miller (University of Indianapolis) interviewed 62 cohabitating couples about how the couple members met and how much they think others support their relationships. The researchers were particularly interested in whether social class played a role in any link between how couples meet and their perceived relationship support.

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New Directions in Relationship Research: From the Frontlines of SPSP

Recently, many of us here at Science of Relationships attended the Society for Personality and Social Psychology annual conference in Austin, Texas. Research on close relationships was well represented at the conference, with symposia covering a range of topics, including social support in relationships, social networks, evolution and sexual behavior, attachment, and more. For my part, I had a chance to attend some fascinating talks from researchers who have been tackling some interesting questions across two of my favorite, closely-related research areas  - social support (i.e., how people in relationships help each other) and responsiveness (i.e., how a close other’s behavior make us feel understood, cared for, and validated).

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