Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Psychology

Supervisor

Dr. Nicholas Kuiper

Abstract

The overall purpose of this dissertation was to study the role of emotional support in emotional well-being (positive affect, negative affect, and non-clinical depressive symptoms). The research literature on social support has primarily focused on support processes occurring in the context of negative experiences and often has not included positive social interactions. This dissertation aimed to expand the study of emotional support by investigating emotional support for both positive and negative experiences, as well as emotional invalidation of negative experiences. Also, the mechanisms linking social support with well-being remain largely unclear. Two studies in this dissertation explored the role of emotion regulation self-efficacy as a mediator of the links between perceived emotional support/invalidation and emotional well-being. Moreover, past research on the link between received support and well-being has shown mixed findings. This dissertation aimed to expand this research by investigating the roles of various aspects of received emotional support in the prediction of daily affect. Furthermore, this dissertation examined the link between perceived and received emotional support. To this end, three studies were conducted: a concurrent study, a longitudinal study, and a daily diary study. All studies examined emotional support from the perspective of the recipient of support, guided by the theory of perceived partner responsiveness. Findings showed that 1) higher levels of perceived emotional support and lower levels of perceived emotional invalidation are associated with enhanced emotional well-being; 2) the link between perceived emotional support for negative experiences and depressive symptoms is bidirectional; 3) emotion regulation self-efficacy (especially perceived ability to regulate negative emotions) mediates the link between perceived emotional support/invalidation and emotional well-being, providing evidence consistent with the enabling hypothesis and interpersonal emotion regulation models; 4) desiring emotional support may represent a marker of poor emotional well-being, but telling a close other about positive and negative events is associated with higher positive affect, 5) considering its role in positive affect, the most important aspect of received emotional support, both with regard to negative and positive events, is feeling understood; and 6) received emotional support predicts perceived emotional support, providing evidence for the association between these two constructs.


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