Providing Social Support May Be More Beneficial Than Receiving It: Results From a Prospective Study of Mortality

Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48106-1248, USA.
Psychological Science (Impact Factor: 4.43). 08/2003; 14(4):320-7. DOI: 10.1111/1467-9280.14461
Source: PubMed


This study examines the relative contributions of giving versus receiving support to longevity in a sample of older married adults. Baseline indicators of giving and receiving support were used to predict mortality status over a 5-year period in the Changing Lives of Older Couples sample. Results from logistic regression analyses indicated that mortality was significantly reduced for individuals who reported providing instrumental support to friends, relatives, and neighbors, and individuals who reported providing emotional support to their spouse. Receiving support had no effect on mortality once giving support was taken into consideration. This pattern of findings was obtained after controlling for demographic, personality, health, mental health, and marital-relationship variables. These results have implications for understanding how social contact influences health and longevity.

Download full-text


Available from: Randolph M Nesse,
  • Source
    • "actions providers perform (S. L. Brown et al., 2003; Dunkel- Schetter & Skokan, 1990). Second, other researchers concentrate instead on providers' emotional support, typically measuring providers' empathy or emotional responsiveness (Batson, Duncan, Ackerman, Buckley, & Birch, 1981; Reis, Clark, & Holmes, 2004). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Individuals in close relationships help each other in many ways, from listening to each other's problems, to making each other feel understood, to providing practical support. However, it is unclear if these supportive behaviors track each other across days and as stable tendencies in close relationships. Further, although past work suggests that giving support improves providers' well-being, the specific features of support provision that improve providers' psychological lives remain unclear. We addressed these gaps in knowledge through a daily diary study that comprehensively assessed support provision and its effects on well-being. We found that providers' emotional support (e.g., empathy) and instrumental support represent distinct dimensions of support provision, replicating prior work. Crucially, emotional support, but not instrumental support, consistently predicted provider well-being. These 2 dimensions also interacted, such that instrumental support enhanced well-being of both providers and recipients, but only when providers were emotionally engaged while providing support. These findings illuminate the nature of support provision and suggest targets for interventions to enhance well-being. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved).
    Emotion 08/2015; 2015(15):484 – 493. DOI:10.1037/emo0000084 · 3.88 Impact Factor
    • "Participants described mentoring others to help them grow and develop, and supporting others through difficult times. This is an important finding because most research on coworker relationships focuses on benefits received, despite evidence that providing support to others may have even greater benefits than receiving it (Brown et al., 2003), and that giving to beneficiaries of work also benefits employees (Grant, 2007, 2008). Given the traditional focus on relationships as a resource for coping with adversity, it is not surprising that giving to others has not been highlighted as a primary function of work relationships in previous research. "

    The Academy of Management Journal 07/2015; DOI:10.5465/amj.2014.0506 · 5.61 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "Although emotional support has traditionally been conceived as something an individual receives, scholars have found that providing emotional support for others produces positive effects on psychosocial outcomes (Namkoong et al., 2013). Individuals appear to benefit from taking a pro-social " provider " role (Brown et al., 2003). Providing social support can lead to benefits such as improved mental health (Schwartz, Meisenhelder, Ma, & Reed, 2003). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The growth of online support groups has led to an expression effects paradigm within the health communication literature. Although religious support expression is characterized as a typical sub-dimension of emotional support, we argue that in the context of a life-threatening illness, the inclusion of a religious component creates a unique communication process. Using data from an online group for women with breast cancer, we test a theoretical expression effects model. Results demonstrate that for breast cancer patients, religious support expression has distinct effects from general emotional support messages, which highlights the need to further theorize expression effects along these lines.
    Health Communication 01/2015; · 0.97 Impact Factor
Show more