PSY327H5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: Great Conversation, Psycinfo, Psychological Bulletin

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1 Nov 2018
School
Department
Course
Professor
Questions
How can we best support our romantic partner?
Is it ever bad to provide support to our partner?
Why do we sometimes hold back sharing good news with our partner?
Plan for Today
Part 1: Social Support
Support during “bad” times
Part 2: Capitalization
Support during “good” times
Stress and Strain
We experience stress and strain
In our relationships
Outside of our relationships
Social support
What is it? (different types)
Why do we give and receive support?
Benefits of giving and receiving support
How to give the best support
Is support receipt ever costly?
Defining social support
We rely on close others to help us during challenging times.
Social support is conceptualized most generally as responsiveness to another’s needs
and, more specifically, as acts that communicate care; that validate the other’s worth,
feelings, or actions; or that facilitate adaptive coping with problems through the
provision of information, assistance, or tangible resources.”
The Support Toolbox
What is good social support?
Sensitivity
• Responsiveness
Understanding, validating, caring
The Support Toolbox
What is good social support?
• Sensitivity
• Responsiveness
Understanding, validating, caring
What ingredients are required?
Skills
• Resources
Motivation (altruistic vs. egoistic)
Types of support
Emotional support
Attempts to console partner (e.g., listening, offering sympathy)
Esteem support
Attempts to increase partners’ confidence/self-efficacy (e.g., reminding about
strengths, previous success)
Instrumental support
Offering direct assistance to resolve a problem (e.g., advice, tangible resources,
taking responsibilities)
Origins of support
Unlike other animals, ancestral humans had great difficulty surviving without others.
Relatively slow and weak
Require a lot of calories
Vulnerable during pregnancy/childbirth
Extremely vulnerable prior to adulthood
Close others could help us meet these challenges
Sharing food/resources
Help raise offspring
Acquire resources (e.g., group hunting)
Vigilance against threats (e.g., predatory animals, outgroups)
Protection against such threats
Knowledge (e.g., what plants to avoid, how to hunt)
We have evolved to provide support
Providing support increases our status and decreases our chances of rejection
But, we have to balance it with our own survival goals, so we help when:
We believe others will reciprocate our support
We are experiencing empathy-feelings of concern for another who is suffering
Think about the last time you provided someone with support. How did it make you
feel?
A. I felt stressed trying to help.
B. I felt good about myself.
C. I felt worse about myself.
Benefits of providing support
Assessed the extent to which older adults provided to and received support from
friends, family, spouses.
Lower mortality among people who provide greater support
In fact, providing support was a stronger predictor of mortality than receiving support.
Receiving support wasn’t associated with mortality
We have evolved to seek support
Need to belong/attachment
Infants are predisposed to signal needs.
Emotional expressions function to signal needs to others
Anger signals that someone has violated our expectations.
Embarrassment signals apology and need to be forgiven for violating
expectations.
Sadness signals a need for support.
Fear signals danger and a need for protection.
Benefits of receiving support
People who report having supportive others tend to experience better relational
benefits:
Trust
Closeness/Intimacy
Satisfaction
People who report having supportive others tend to experience better personal
benefits:
Better adjustment to stressful life events
Better mental health (anxiety, depression)
Less susceptible to disease (cardiovascular, cancer, infectious)
Lower mortality
Achieve personal goals
Benefits of receiving support
In fact, social support predicts lower mortality over and above important health
behaviors!
Cortisol and Social Support
Experimental manipulation of support to examine cortisol reactivity in response to a
lab stressor
Participants:
64 undergraduate student couples
Relationship duration 6-132 months
Lab stress: Speech about job qualifications
Support manipulation
Cortisol: stress hormone
Support Condition
Before: “I just wanted to send you a quick note to let you know that I’m thinking of
you. I’m sorry you got stuck with the speech task . . . I know it can be stressful to give
a speech but just remember that this is just an experiment and it will be over really
soon. Just be yourself and I’m sure they will think you are great! Remember, I am right
across the hall if you need anything.”
After: “I didn’t get to see your speech, but I’m sure you did a great job, especially
given how little time you had to prepare! Giving a speech is never easy, and no matter
what happened, I still think you’re great! I can’t wait to see you and to hear all about
it.”
Cortisol and Social Support
Interaction of baseline speech anxiety and condition
For those low in anxiety, notes did not have significant effect on cortisol levels
For those high in anxiety, supportive notes significantly reduced cortisol levels
Have you ever turned to someone for support and it ended up making you feel even
worse?
A. Yes
B. No
Costs of support?
Numerous studies have failed to find mental and physical health benefits of receiving
support.
Effects are about perceived support
So, believing you have supportive others is beneficial, but receiving greater support is
sometimes not.
In fact, there might be costs to receiving support
E.g., decreases self-efficacy
Visible versus invisible support
Visible support: partners say they gave support, and the recipients also perceived it
Invisible support: partners say they gave support, and the recipient did not perceive it
Visible support
Invisible support
Invisible support during conversations
Measuring “invisible” support in couples’ video-recorded interactions
Visible support
Invisible support
Invisible support during conversations
Visible versus invisible support
99 couples – one partner taking the bar exam (20-50% failure rate)
Daily diary – 32 days leading up to and 3 days after the exam
Measured
Examinee distress
Examinee: did your partner provide support to you today?
Partner: did you provide support to your partner today?
Changes mood over 32 days
Visible versus invisible support
Visible support
Visible support is direct or overt
Detrimental for recipients’ personal outcomes
Greater depressed mood and anxiety
Lower self-efficacy
Why?
Visible support
1. Increases the salience of stressors
2. Makes people feel like they are a burden and indebted to partners
3. Threatens competence and efficacy
Experiment
Visible support
Visible support
Providing “invisible” support may bypass these costs of visible support
Subtle and indirect support that goes unnoticed by the recipient
Taking care of household tasks
Washing partner’s car
Preparing partner’s favorite food
Fixing pot of tea or coffee
Summary: Support (So Far)
Providing social support and perceiving the availability of support are linked to many
positive outcomes.
Providing support can backfire if it threatens self efficacy and coping.
Invisible (unnoticed) forms of support can bypass costs of support.
Lower depression and anxiety
Greater efficacy
Greater achievement of personal goals
Support should be tailored
Support is most beneficial when it matches recipients’ needs/desires.
Situational and individual differences determine the type of support we need/desire.
1. Support matching desires
2. Over-versus under-provision of support
3. Support matching needs
4. Support matching individual characteristics
In this video, what kind of support was the male partner initially trying to provide?
A. Emotional Support
B. Esteem Support
C. Instrumental Support
D. No Support
In this video, what kind of support did the female partner really desire?
E. Emotional Support
F. Esteem Support
G. Instrumental Support
H. No Support
Support matching desires
Either disclosed their emotions or wanted advise
Measured how much the recipient was responsive of their needs
What you want is actually matching the kind of support you're receiving
Didn’t feel like the person was particularly responsive to their needs, but also didn’t
see them as not being responsive at all
Overprovision of support
Overprovision of support = receiving more support than is desired
There needs to be the right amount of support
Married couples followed over 5 years, receiving too much support leads to greater
decreases in satisfaction with marriage
Supporting matching needs
Remember how we said visible support has all these personal costs?
Should depend on whether or not people need overt (visible) comfort and
reassurance
Personal goals study
61 romantic couples came into the lab
Conversations about something each partner would like to change (personal goal)
After each conversation, rated distress, as well as whether the conversation was
“successful”
Coders: visible vs. invisible support
Support matching needs
For people who felt highly distressed about the conversation, high visible support felt
the conversation was more successful
Support matching needs
If people were low in distress, they report an unsuccessful conversation when having
visible vs invisible support
Visible support in this case was better than invisible support
Support matching individual characteristics
Important to get support that matches our attachment
Couples brought into the lab to see receiving of support
People who are low in attachment avoidance tend to feel more calm during problem
discussions when their partner provided them with high vs low levels of emotional
support
People high in attachment avoidance, report similar levels of being calm regardless of
their partner providing them with more or less emotional support
Instrumental support doesn’t really do much for them
Felt more calm when their partners provided them with high or low levels of
instrumental support
Key take home messages
We have evolved to both give and receive social support.
Social support is critical for personal and relationship wellbeing.
Effective support should be tailored:
Providing support that people desire
Not giving too much support
Providing support that meets people’s immediate needs (e.g., distress)
Providing support that is sensitive to people’s characteristics (e.g., insecurities)
Tips!
Finding Your Research “Problem”
What’s an important societal problem?
What’s a factor that we think or know to be causing that problem?
What are some new ways we might be able to solve that problem?
Finding Your Research “Problem”
Societal problem: high rates of divorce
Causes of problem: our expectations for what we want out of marriage are too high
Ways to solve the problem: decrease demands we put on our partner, seek need
fulfillment elsewhere
Assignment Tips
1. Find a research problem and make sure it is interesting to YOU!
2. Zero in on what phenomenon/problem you’re interested in and why it matters.
3. Research what has already been done on the topic.
4. Come up with your own new, exciting idea that you think could meaningfully advance
the situation.
Step by Step: Find Good Sources
1. Do a keyword search in PsycINFO
Filter by “peer reviewed” and “scholarly articles”, sort by “most relevant”
2. Find a few relevant papers in good journals
Download them, skim the intros. What papers do they cite? WHO do they cite?
What terms do they use?
3. Search by the most common authors
What new stuff do they have on the topic?
4. Do a new search now that you’ve got better terms
Some Excellent Journals
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Social Psychological and Personality Science
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
Psychological Bulletin
Psychological Science
Personal Relationships
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships
Journal of Family Psychology
Sharing Good News
Social support for partner during times of stress is crucial.
Important to share own triumphs as well as celebrate a partner’s triumphs
But responsiveness in good times is as important as responsiveness in bad times.
Capitalization
What is it and why does it matter?
How do our partners respond?
Individual differences
Self-esteem
• Attachment
Capitalization
Good things happen
Positive events occur 3-5 times as frequency as negative events
What do we do when things go right? Share it!
Defined as informing another person about the occurrence of a personal positive
event and thereby deriving additional benefit from it
Think about the last time you shared a positive event with someone (e.g., you got a
good grade). How did they make you feel?
1. I felt more positive about the situation.
2. I felt more negative about the situation.
3. I felt the same.
Daily diary study
Measured life satisfaction, positive affect, negative affect
Most negative event of the day
E.g., poor grade on test, friend made offensive comment
Rated how stressful it was
Most positive event
E.g., surprise package, good MCAT scores
Rated how important it was
Capitalization: “I let others know about the event/issue.”
70.8% of days
results
On days when people capitalized (shared positive event)
Higher positive affect and life satisfaction
Above and beyond the importance of the most positive and the stressfulness of
the most negative event of the day
Another study investigated why sharing -> higher well-being
Better memory for events that are shared!
Why is it so beneficial?
Telling others about positive events confers added benefit, over and above the event
itself
Re-experience the event
Fosters social interactions
Boosts self-esteem, facilitates positive reflected appraisals
Enhances intimacy and closeness
Capitalization as a dyadic process
Capitalization, just like support, is a dyadic process.
Relationship outcomes depend on how the partner responds to capitalization
disclosure
It is possible for people to reinterpret your positive events in such a way as to
minimize their positive impact.
Measuring CAP responses
“Please take a moment to consider how your partner responds when you tell him or
her about something good that has happened to you. For example, imagine that you
come home and tell your partner about receiving a promotion at work, having a great
conversation with a family member, getting a raise, winning a prize, or doing well on
an exam at school or a project at work. Please consider to what extent your partner
does the following things in response to your good fortune.”
I got an A on my PSY327 test!
Active constructive: OMG, that is so exciting!
Passive constructive: That’s nice.
Active destructive: It must have been really easy since I know you didn’t study very
hard.
Passive destructive: What’s for dinner?
Passive-constructive and relationship satisfaction
Partner doesn’t see event as important
Partner doesn’t see relationship as important
Partner feels threatened, jealous, or is distracted by personal concerns.
Individual differences
Are some people more affected by capitalization than others?
Attachment anxiety
Are we less likely to capitalize with certain people?
Self-esteem
Attachment and capitalization
Anxiously attached people are more vigilant to cues of rejection and acceptance.
It’s likely that they will be especially reactive to responsive capitalization—more so
than people lower in attachment anxiety.
10-day daily experience study of 39 couples
Attachment anxiety
Daily measures of positive events shared with partner, perceptions of partner’s
responsiveness, satisfaction
Self-esteem and capitalization
People more likely to share if they expect their good news will be well-received.
People will be less likely to capitalize to a partner low in self-esteem
Other-focused: don’t want to make partner feel inferior
Self-focused: expect interaction will go poorly for themselves
Study 1: romantic relationships
87 undergrads in romantic relationships
Wrote down “something positive that happened to [them] recently”
20 questions designed to measure their “partner’s personality”
From this, given false feedback that their partner was low in SE or no feedback
(would get the feedback later)
Dependent variable: write an email to partner sharing good news
Study 1: results
Coders rated the positivity of the good news in the emails
Participants wrote less positive emails when they thought their partner was low in
self-esteem than when they received no feedback.
Study 2: friendship
82 undergrads
Wrote down “a recent accomplishment”
20 questions designed to measure their “friend’s personality”
From this, given false feedback that their friend was low in SE or no feedback
(would get the feedback later)
Dependent variable: write an email to friend sharing good news
Study 2: results
Coders rated the positivity of the good news in the emails
Participants wrote less positive emails when they thought their friend was low in self-
esteem than when they received no feedback.
Used fewer positive emotion words
Elaborated less on importance of accomplishment
Study 3: why don’t people share?
68 undergrads
Wrote down “something good that happened to [them] recently”
As before, given false feedback about friend’s self-esteem
Dependent variables
positivity of email
how they expected friend to feel (other-focused concerns)
how they expected their friend to behave (self-focused concerns)
Study 3: measures
• Other-focused concerns
Friend would “feel inferior” or “feel jealous”
Self-focused concerns
Friend would “point out the potential down sides of the good event,” “find a
problem with the good thing that happened to me,” “not pay much attention to
me,” and “seem disinterested”
Study 3: results
Participants wrote less positive emails when they thought their friend was low in self-
esteem than when they received no feedback.
Effect driven by self-focused concerns, not other-focused concerns
Key take home messages
Capitalization involves sharing positive news with others to gain additional benefit.
Capitalization has personal benefits (boosts positive mood and self-esteem).
Capitalization can boost relationship satisfaction, if partners respond in active-
constructive ways.
Sometimes people fail to capitalize because they worry they won’t get these types of
responses.
Putting It All Together
Social support -> capitalization
Paradox of Social Support
Perceived social support is undoubtedly good for us
Actual received support shows mixed results
Not even consistently correlated with perceptions of social support!
So where on earth do these perceptions of support come from?
Capitalization is a source of perceived social support, because it provides a low-risk
way for people to demonstrate care and responsiveness.
Study 1
14 day diary study of 67 cohabiting couples
Daily Measures
Personal well-being (life satisfaction, happiness)
Did you tell partner about positive event?
Responsiveness
Did you tell you partner about a negative event?
Responsiveness
Daily Personal Well-Being
Increases in well being when sharing positive events with partner
Study 2
Longitudinal study of 76 participants
Initial session: perceived quality of social support
Daily measures: daily enacted support quality and capitalization quality
Two months later: Perceived quality of social support
Stability in perceptions over time
How a partner reacts when we share positive events that shapes our perceptions of
how socially supported we feel over time
In Sum
Perceived support is important for relationship quality.
Received support can be harmful, especially when visible (or doesn’t match people’s
needs).
Perceived support not correlated with received support.
Where do these perceptions come from?
Capitalization: safely testing the alarm
Week 8: Support and Capitalization
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
8:51 PM
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Questions
How can we best support our romantic partner?
Is it ever bad to provide support to our partner?
Why do we sometimes hold back sharing good news with our partner?
Plan for Today
Part 1: Social Support
Support during “bad” times
Part 2: Capitalization
Support during “good” times
Stress and Strain
We experience stress and strain
In our relationships
Outside of our relationships
Social support
What is it? (different types)
Why do we give and receive support?
Benefits of giving and receiving support
How to give the best support
Is support receipt ever costly?
Defining social support
We rely on close others to help us during challenging times.
• “Social support is conceptualized most generally as responsiveness to another’s needs
and, more specifically, as acts that communicate care; that validate the other’s worth,
feelings, or actions; or that facilitate adaptive coping with problems through the
provision of information, assistance, or tangible resources.”
The Support Toolbox
What is good social support?
Sensitivity
Responsiveness
Understanding, validating, caring
The Support Toolbox
What is good social support?
Sensitivity
Responsiveness
Understanding, validating, caring
What ingredients are required?
Skills
Resources
Motivation (altruistic vs. egoistic)
Types of support
Emotional support
Attempts to console partner (e.g., listening, offering sympathy)
Esteem support
Attempts to increase partners’ confidence/self-efficacy (e.g., reminding about
strengths, previous success)
Instrumental support
Offering direct assistance to resolve a problem (e.g., advice, tangible resources,
taking responsibilities)
Origins of support
Unlike other animals, ancestral humans had great difficulty surviving without others.
Relatively slow and weak
Require a lot of calories
Vulnerable during pregnancy/childbirth
Extremely vulnerable prior to adulthood
Close others could help us meet these challenges
Sharing food/resources
Help raise offspring
Acquire resources (e.g., group hunting)
Vigilance against threats (e.g., predatory animals, outgroups)
Protection against such threats
Knowledge (e.g., what plants to avoid, how to hunt)
We have evolved to provide support
Providing support increases our status and decreases our chances of rejection
But, we have to balance it with our own survival goals, so we help when:
We believe others will reciprocate our support
We are experiencing empathy-feelings of concern for another who is suffering
Think about the last time you provided someone with support. How did it make you
feel?
A. I felt stressed trying to help.
B. I felt good about myself.
C. I felt worse about myself.
Benefits of providing support
Assessed the extent to which older adults provided to and received support from
friends, family, spouses.
Lower mortality among people who provide greater support
In fact, providing support was a stronger predictor of mortality than receiving support.
Receiving support wasn’t associated with mortality
We have evolved to seek support
Need to belong/attachment
Infants are predisposed to signal needs.
Emotional expressions function to signal needs to others
Anger signals that someone has violated our expectations.
Embarrassment signals apology and need to be forgiven for violating
expectations.
Sadness signals a need for support.
Fear signals danger and a need for protection.
Benefits of receiving support
People who report having supportive others tend to experience better relational
benefits:
Trust
Closeness/Intimacy
Satisfaction
People who report having supportive others tend to experience better personal
benefits:
Better adjustment to stressful life events
Better mental health (anxiety, depression)
Less susceptible to disease (cardiovascular, cancer, infectious)
Lower mortality
Achieve personal goals
Benefits of receiving support
In fact, social support predicts lower mortality over and above important health
behaviors!
Cortisol and Social Support
Experimental manipulation of support to examine cortisol reactivity in response to a
lab stressor
Participants:
64 undergraduate student couples
Relationship duration 6-132 months
Lab stress: Speech about job qualifications
Support manipulation
Cortisol: stress hormone
Support Condition
Before: “I just wanted to send you a quick note to let you know that I’m thinking of
you. I’m sorry you got stuck with the speech task . . . I know it can be stressful to give
a speech but just remember that this is just an experiment and it will be over really
soon. Just be yourself and I’m sure they will think you are great! Remember, I am right
across the hall if you need anything.”
After: “I didn’t get to see your speech, but I’m sure you did a great job, especially
given how little time you had to prepare! Giving a speech is never easy, and no matter
what happened, I still think you’re great! I can’t wait to see you and to hear all about
it.”
Cortisol and Social Support
Interaction of baseline speech anxiety and condition
For those low in anxiety, notes did not have significant effect on cortisol levels
For those high in anxiety, supportive notes significantly reduced cortisol levels
Have you ever turned to someone for support and it ended up making you feel even
worse?
A. Yes
B. No
Costs of support?
Numerous studies have failed to find mental and physical health benefits of receiving
support.
Effects are about perceived support
So, believing you have supportive others is beneficial, but receiving greater support is
sometimes not.
In fact, there might be costs to receiving support
E.g., decreases self-efficacy
Visible versus invisible support
Visible support: partners say they gave support, and the recipients also perceived it
Invisible support: partners say they gave support, and the recipient did not perceive it
Visible support
Invisible support
Invisible support during conversations
Measuring “invisible” support in couples’ video-recorded interactions
Visible support
Invisible support
Invisible support during conversations
Visible versus invisible support
99 couples – one partner taking the bar exam (20-50% failure rate)
Daily diary – 32 days leading up to and 3 days after the exam
Measured
Examinee distress
Examinee: did your partner provide support to you today?
Partner: did you provide support to your partner today?
Changes mood over 32 days
Visible versus invisible support
Visible support
Visible support is direct or overt
Detrimental for recipients’ personal outcomes
Greater depressed mood and anxiety
Lower self-efficacy
Why?
Visible support
1. Increases the salience of stressors
2. Makes people feel like they are a burden and indebted to partners
3. Threatens competence and efficacy
Experiment
Visible support
Visible support
Providing “invisible” support may bypass these costs of visible support
Subtle and indirect support that goes unnoticed by the recipient
Taking care of household tasks
Washing partner’s car
Preparing partner’s favorite food
Fixing pot of tea or coffee
Summary: Support (So Far)
Providing social support and perceiving the availability of support are linked to many
positive outcomes.
Providing support can backfire if it threatens self efficacy and coping.
Invisible (unnoticed) forms of support can bypass costs of support.
Lower depression and anxiety
Greater efficacy
Greater achievement of personal goals
Support should be tailored
Support is most beneficial when it matches recipients’ needs/desires.
Situational and individual differences determine the type of support we need/desire.
1. Support matching desires
2. Over-versus under-provision of support
3. Support matching needs
4. Support matching individual characteristics
In this video, what kind of support was the male partner initially trying to provide?
A. Emotional Support
B. Esteem Support
C. Instrumental Support
D. No Support
In this video, what kind of support did the female partner really desire?
E. Emotional Support
F. Esteem Support
G. Instrumental Support
H. No Support
Support matching desires
Either disclosed their emotions or wanted advise
Measured how much the recipient was responsive of their needs
What you want is actually matching the kind of support you're receiving
Didn’t feel like the person was particularly responsive to their needs, but also didn’t
see them as not being responsive at all
Overprovision of support
Overprovision of support = receiving more support than is desired
There needs to be the right amount of support
Married couples followed over 5 years, receiving too much support leads to greater
decreases in satisfaction with marriage
Supporting matching needs
Remember how we said visible support has all these personal costs?
Should depend on whether or not people need overt (visible) comfort and
reassurance
Personal goals study
61 romantic couples came into the lab
Conversations about something each partner would like to change (personal goal)
After each conversation, rated distress, as well as whether the conversation was
“successful”
Coders: visible vs. invisible support
Support matching needs
For people who felt highly distressed about the conversation, high visible support felt
the conversation was more successful
Support matching needs
If people were low in distress, they report an unsuccessful conversation when having
visible vs invisible support
Visible support in this case was better than invisible support
Support matching individual characteristics
Important to get support that matches our attachment
Couples brought into the lab to see receiving of support
People who are low in attachment avoidance tend to feel more calm during problem
discussions when their partner provided them with high vs low levels of emotional
support
People high in attachment avoidance, report similar levels of being calm regardless of
their partner providing them with more or less emotional support
Instrumental support doesn’t really do much for them
Felt more calm when their partners provided them with high or low levels of
instrumental support
Key take home messages
We have evolved to both give and receive social support.
Social support is critical for personal and relationship wellbeing.
Effective support should be tailored:
Providing support that people desire
Not giving too much support
Providing support that meets people’s immediate needs (e.g., distress)
Providing support that is sensitive to people’s characteristics (e.g., insecurities)
Tips!
Finding Your Research “Problem”
What’s an important societal problem?
What’s a factor that we think or know to be causing that problem?
What are some new ways we might be able to solve that problem?
Finding Your Research “Problem”
Societal problem: high rates of divorce
Causes of problem: our expectations for what we want out of marriage are too high
Ways to solve the problem: decrease demands we put on our partner, seek need
fulfillment elsewhere
Assignment Tips
1. Find a research problem and make sure it is interesting to YOU!
2. Zero in on what phenomenon/problem you’re interested in and why it matters.
3. Research what has already been done on the topic.
4. Come up with your own new, exciting idea that you think could meaningfully advance
the situation.
Step by Step: Find Good Sources
1. Do a keyword search in PsycINFO
Filter by “peer reviewed” and “scholarly articles”, sort by “most relevant”
2. Find a few relevant papers in good journals
Download them, skim the intros. What papers do they cite? WHO do they cite?
What terms do they use?
3. Search by the most common authors
What new stuff do they have on the topic?
4. Do a new search now that you’ve got better terms
Some Excellent Journals
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Social Psychological and Personality Science
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
Psychological Bulletin
Psychological Science
Personal Relationships
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships
Journal of Family Psychology
Sharing Good News
Social support for partner during times of stress is crucial.
Important to share own triumphs as well as celebrate a partner’s triumphs
But responsiveness in good times is as important as responsiveness in bad times.
Capitalization
What is it and why does it matter?
How do our partners respond?
Individual differences
Self-esteem
• Attachment
Capitalization
Good things happen
Positive events occur 3-5 times as frequency as negative events
What do we do when things go right? Share it!
Defined as informing another person about the occurrence of a personal positive
event and thereby deriving additional benefit from it
Think about the last time you shared a positive event with someone (e.g., you got a
good grade). How did they make you feel?
1. I felt more positive about the situation.
2. I felt more negative about the situation.
3. I felt the same.
Daily diary study
Measured life satisfaction, positive affect, negative affect
Most negative event of the day
E.g., poor grade on test, friend made offensive comment
Rated how stressful it was
Most positive event
E.g., surprise package, good MCAT scores
Rated how important it was
Capitalization: “I let others know about the event/issue.”
70.8% of days
results
On days when people capitalized (shared positive event)
Higher positive affect and life satisfaction
Above and beyond the importance of the most positive and the stressfulness of
the most negative event of the day
Another study investigated why sharing -> higher well-being
Better memory for events that are shared!
Why is it so beneficial?
Telling others about positive events confers added benefit, over and above the event
itself
Re-experience the event
Fosters social interactions
Boosts self-esteem, facilitates positive reflected appraisals
Enhances intimacy and closeness
Capitalization as a dyadic process
Capitalization, just like support, is a dyadic process.
Relationship outcomes depend on how the partner responds to capitalization
disclosure
It is possible for people to reinterpret your positive events in such a way as to
minimize their positive impact.
Measuring CAP responses
“Please take a moment to consider how your partner responds when you tell him or
her about something good that has happened to you. For example, imagine that you
come home and tell your partner about receiving a promotion at work, having a great
conversation with a family member, getting a raise, winning a prize, or doing well on
an exam at school or a project at work. Please consider to what extent your partner
does the following things in response to your good fortune.”
I got an A on my PSY327 test!
Active constructive: OMG, that is so exciting!
Passive constructive: That’s nice.
Active destructive: It must have been really easy since I know you didn’t study very
hard.
Passive destructive: What’s for dinner?
Passive-constructive and relationship satisfaction
Partner doesn’t see event as important
Partner doesn’t see relationship as important
Partner feels threatened, jealous, or is distracted by personal concerns.
Individual differences
Are some people more affected by capitalization than others?
Attachment anxiety
Are we less likely to capitalize with certain people?
Self-esteem
Attachment and capitalization
Anxiously attached people are more vigilant to cues of rejection and acceptance.
It’s likely that they will be especially reactive to responsive capitalization—more so
than people lower in attachment anxiety.
10-day daily experience study of 39 couples
Attachment anxiety
Daily measures of positive events shared with partner, perceptions of partner’s
responsiveness, satisfaction
Self-esteem and capitalization
People more likely to share if they expect their good news will be well-received.
People will be less likely to capitalize to a partner low in self-esteem
Other-focused: don’t want to make partner feel inferior
Self-focused: expect interaction will go poorly for themselves
Study 1: romantic relationships
87 undergrads in romantic relationships
Wrote down “something positive that happened to [them] recently”
20 questions designed to measure their “partner’s personality”
From this, given false feedback that their partner was low in SE or no feedback
(would get the feedback later)
Dependent variable: write an email to partner sharing good news
Study 1: results
Coders rated the positivity of the good news in the emails
Participants wrote less positive emails when they thought their partner was low in
self-esteem than when they received no feedback.
Study 2: friendship
82 undergrads
Wrote down “a recent accomplishment”
20 questions designed to measure their “friend’s personality”
From this, given false feedback that their friend was low in SE or no feedback
(would get the feedback later)
Dependent variable: write an email to friend sharing good news
Study 2: results
Coders rated the positivity of the good news in the emails
Participants wrote less positive emails when they thought their friend was low in self-
esteem than when they received no feedback.
Used fewer positive emotion words
Elaborated less on importance of accomplishment
Study 3: why don’t people share?
68 undergrads
Wrote down “something good that happened to [them] recently”
As before, given false feedback about friend’s self-esteem
Dependent variables
positivity of email
how they expected friend to feel (other-focused concerns)
how they expected their friend to behave (self-focused concerns)
Study 3: measures
• Other-focused concerns
Friend would “feel inferior” or “feel jealous”
Self-focused concerns
Friend would “point out the potential down sides of the good event,” “find a
problem with the good thing that happened to me,” “not pay much attention to
me,” and “seem disinterested”
Study 3: results
Participants wrote less positive emails when they thought their friend was low in self-
esteem than when they received no feedback.
Effect driven by self-focused concerns, not other-focused concerns
Key take home messages
Capitalization involves sharing positive news with others to gain additional benefit.
Capitalization has personal benefits (boosts positive mood and self-esteem).
Capitalization can boost relationship satisfaction, if partners respond in active-
constructive ways.
Sometimes people fail to capitalize because they worry they won’t get these types of
responses.
Putting It All Together
Social support -> capitalization
Paradox of Social Support
Perceived social support is undoubtedly good for us
Actual received support shows mixed results
Not even consistently correlated with perceptions of social support!
So where on earth do these perceptions of support come from?
Capitalization is a source of perceived social support, because it provides a low-risk
way for people to demonstrate care and responsiveness.
Study 1
14 day diary study of 67 cohabiting couples
Daily Measures
Personal well-being (life satisfaction, happiness)
Did you tell partner about positive event?
Responsiveness
Did you tell you partner about a negative event?
Responsiveness
Daily Personal Well-Being
Increases in well being when sharing positive events with partner
Study 2
Longitudinal study of 76 participants
Initial session: perceived quality of social support
Daily measures: daily enacted support quality and capitalization quality
Two months later: Perceived quality of social support
Stability in perceptions over time
How a partner reacts when we share positive events that shapes our perceptions of
how socially supported we feel over time
In Sum
Perceived support is important for relationship quality.
Received support can be harmful, especially when visible (or doesn’t match people’s
needs).
Perceived support not correlated with received support.
Where do these perceptions come from?
Capitalization: safely testing the alarm
Week 8: Support and Capitalization
Wednesday, October 31, 2018 8:51 PM
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Questions
How can we best support our romantic partner?
Is it ever bad to provide support to our partner?
Why do we sometimes hold back sharing good news with our partner?
Plan for Today
Part 1: Social Support
Support during “bad” times
Part 2: Capitalization
Support during “good” times
Stress and Strain
We experience stress and strain
In our relationships
Outside of our relationships
Social support
What is it? (different types)
Why do we give and receive support?
Benefits of giving and receiving support
How to give the best support
Is support receipt ever costly?
Defining social support
We rely on close others to help us during challenging times.
• “Social support is conceptualized most generally as responsiveness to another’s needs
and, more specifically, as acts that communicate care; that validate the other’s worth,
feelings, or actions; or that facilitate adaptive coping with problems through the
provision of information, assistance, or tangible resources.”
The Support Toolbox
What is good social support?
• Sensitivity
• Responsiveness
Understanding, validating, caring
The Support Toolbox
What is good social support?
• Sensitivity
• Responsiveness
Understanding, validating, caring
What ingredients are required?
Skills
• Resources
Motivation (altruistic vs. egoistic)
Types of support
Emotional support
Attempts to console partner (e.g., listening, offering sympathy)
Esteem support
Attempts to increase partners’ confidence/self-efficacy (e.g., reminding about
strengths, previous success)
Instrumental support
Offering direct assistance to resolve a problem (e.g., advice, tangible resources,
taking responsibilities)
Origins of support
Unlike other animals, ancestral humans had great difficulty surviving without others.
Relatively slow and weak
Require a lot of calories
Vulnerable during pregnancy/childbirth
Extremely vulnerable prior to adulthood
Close others could help us meet these challenges
Sharing food/resources
Help raise offspring
Acquire resources (e.g., group hunting)
Vigilance against threats (e.g., predatory animals, outgroups)
Protection against such threats
Knowledge (e.g., what plants to avoid, how to hunt)
We have evolved to provide support
Providing support increases our status and decreases our chances of rejection
But, we have to balance it with our own survival goals, so we help when:
We believe others will reciprocate our support
We are experiencing empathy-feelings of concern for another who is suffering
Think about the last time you provided someone with support. How did it make you
feel?
A.
I felt stressed trying to help.
B.
I felt good about myself.
C.
I felt worse about myself.
Benefits of providing support
Assessed the extent to which older adults provided to and received support from
friends, family, spouses.
Lower mortality among people who provide greater support
In fact, providing support was a stronger predictor of mortality than receiving support.
Receiving support wasn’t associated with mortality
We have evolved to seek support
Need to belong/attachment
Infants are predisposed to signal needs.
Emotional expressions function to signal needs to others
Anger signals that someone has violated our expectations.
Embarrassment signals apology and need to be forgiven for violating
expectations.
Sadness signals a need for support.
Fear signals danger and a need for protection.
Benefits of receiving support
People who report having supportive others tend to experience better relational
benefits:
Trust
Closeness/Intimacy
Satisfaction
People who report having supportive others tend to experience better personal
benefits:
Better adjustment to stressful life events
Better mental health (anxiety, depression)
Less susceptible to disease (cardiovascular, cancer, infectious)
Lower mortality
Achieve personal goals
Benefits of receiving support
In fact, social support predicts lower mortality over and above important health
behaviors!
Cortisol and Social Support
Experimental manipulation of support to examine cortisol reactivity in response to a
lab stressor
Participants:
64 undergraduate student couples
Relationship duration 6-132 months
Lab stress: Speech about job qualifications
Support manipulation
Cortisol: stress hormone
Support Condition
Before: “I just wanted to send you a quick note to let you know that I’m thinking of
you. I’m sorry you got stuck with the speech task . . . I know it can be stressful to give
a speech but just remember that this is just an experiment and it will be over really
soon. Just be yourself and I’m sure they will think you are great! Remember, I am right
across the hall if you need anything.”
After: “I didn’t get to see your speech, but I’m sure you did a great job, especially
given how little time you had to prepare! Giving a speech is never easy, and no matter
what happened, I still think you’re great! I can’t wait to see you and to hear all about
it.”
Cortisol and Social Support
Interaction of baseline speech anxiety and condition
For those low in anxiety, notes did not have significant effect on cortisol levels
For those high in anxiety, supportive notes significantly reduced cortisol levels
Have you ever turned to someone for support and it ended up making you feel even
worse?
A. Yes
B. No
Costs of support?
Numerous studies have failed to find mental and physical health benefits of receiving
support.
Effects are about perceived support
So, believing you have supportive others is beneficial, but receiving greater support is
sometimes not.
In fact, there might be costs to receiving support
E.g., decreases self-efficacy
Visible versus invisible support
Visible support: partners say they gave support, and the recipients also perceived it
Invisible support: partners say they gave support, and the recipient did not perceive it
Visible support
Invisible support
Invisible support during conversations
Measuring “invisible” support in couples’ video-recorded interactions
Visible support
Invisible support
Invisible support during conversations
Visible versus invisible support
99 couples – one partner taking the bar exam (20-50% failure rate)
Daily diary – 32 days leading up to and 3 days after the exam
Measured
Examinee distress
Examinee: did your partner provide support to you today?
Partner: did you provide support to your partner today?
Changes mood over 32 days
Visible versus invisible support
Visible support
Visible support is direct or overt
Detrimental for recipients’ personal outcomes
Greater depressed mood and anxiety
Lower self-efficacy
Why?
Visible support
1. Increases the salience of stressors
2. Makes people feel like they are a burden and indebted to partners
3. Threatens competence and efficacy
Experiment
Visible support
Visible support
Providing “invisible” support may bypass these costs of visible support
Subtle and indirect support that goes unnoticed by the recipient
Taking care of household tasks
Washing partner’s car
Preparing partner’s favorite food
Fixing pot of tea or coffee
Summary: Support (So Far)
Providing social support and perceiving the availability of support are linked to many
positive outcomes.
Providing support can backfire if it threatens self efficacy and coping.
Invisible (unnoticed) forms of support can bypass costs of support.
Lower depression and anxiety
Greater efficacy
Greater achievement of personal goals
Support should be tailored
Support is most beneficial when it matches recipients’ needs/desires.
Situational and individual differences determine the type of support we need/desire.
1. Support matching desires
2. Over-versus under-provision of support
3. Support matching needs
4. Support matching individual characteristics
In this video, what kind of support was the male partner initially trying to provide?
A. Emotional Support
B. Esteem Support
C. Instrumental Support
D. No Support
In this video, what kind of support did the female partner really desire?
E. Emotional Support
F. Esteem Support
G. Instrumental Support
H. No Support
Support matching desires
Either disclosed their emotions or wanted advise
Measured how much the recipient was responsive of their needs
What you want is actually matching the kind of support you're receiving
Didn’t feel like the person was particularly responsive to their needs, but also didn’t
see them as not being responsive at all
Overprovision of support
Overprovision of support = receiving more support than is desired
There needs to be the right amount of support
Married couples followed over 5 years, receiving too much support leads to greater
decreases in satisfaction with marriage
Supporting matching needs
Remember how we said visible support has all these personal costs?
Should depend on whether or not people need overt (visible) comfort and
reassurance
Personal goals study
61 romantic couples came into the lab
Conversations about something each partner would like to change (personal goal)
After each conversation, rated distress, as well as whether the conversation was
“successful”
Coders: visible vs. invisible support
Support matching needs
For people who felt highly distressed about the conversation, high visible support felt
the conversation was more successful
Support matching needs
If people were low in distress, they report an unsuccessful conversation when having
visible vs invisible support
Visible support in this case was better than invisible support
Support matching individual characteristics
Important to get support that matches our attachment
Couples brought into the lab to see receiving of support
People who are low in attachment avoidance tend to feel more calm during problem
discussions when their partner provided them with high vs low levels of emotional
support
People high in attachment avoidance, report similar levels of being calm regardless of
their partner providing them with more or less emotional support
Instrumental support doesn’t really do much for them
Felt more calm when their partners provided them with high or low levels of
instrumental support
Key take home messages
We have evolved to both give and receive social support.
Social support is critical for personal and relationship wellbeing.
Effective support should be tailored:
Providing support that people desire
Not giving too much support
Providing support that meets people’s immediate needs (e.g., distress)
Providing support that is sensitive to people’s characteristics (e.g., insecurities)
Tips!
Finding Your Research “Problem”
What’s an important societal problem?
What’s a factor that we think or know to be causing that problem?
What are some new ways we might be able to solve that problem?
Finding Your Research “Problem”
Societal problem: high rates of divorce
Causes of problem: our expectations for what we want out of marriage are too high
Ways to solve the problem: decrease demands we put on our partner, seek need
fulfillment elsewhere
Assignment Tips
1. Find a research problem and make sure it is interesting to YOU!
2. Zero in on what phenomenon/problem you’re interested in and why it matters.
3. Research what has already been done on the topic.
4. Come up with your own new, exciting idea that you think could meaningfully advance
the situation.
Step by Step: Find Good Sources
1. Do a keyword search in PsycINFO
Filter by “peer reviewed” and “scholarly articles”, sort by “most relevant”
2. Find a few relevant papers in good journals
Download them, skim the intros. What papers do they cite? WHO do they cite?
What terms do they use?
3. Search by the most common authors
What new stuff do they have on the topic?
4. Do a new search now that you’ve got better terms
Some Excellent Journals
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Social Psychological and Personality Science
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
Psychological Bulletin
Psychological Science
Personal Relationships
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships
Journal of Family Psychology
Sharing Good News
Social support for partner during times of stress is crucial.
Important to share own triumphs as well as celebrate a partner’s triumphs
But responsiveness in good times is as important as responsiveness in bad times.
Capitalization
What is it and why does it matter?
How do our partners respond?
Individual differences
Self-esteem
• Attachment
Capitalization
Good things happen
Positive events occur 3-5 times as frequency as negative events
What do we do when things go right? Share it!
Defined as informing another person about the occurrence of a personal positive
event and thereby deriving additional benefit from it
Think about the last time you shared a positive event with someone (e.g., you got a
good grade). How did they make you feel?
1. I felt more positive about the situation.
2. I felt more negative about the situation.
3. I felt the same.
Daily diary study
Measured life satisfaction, positive affect, negative affect
Most negative event of the day
E.g., poor grade on test, friend made offensive comment
Rated how stressful it was
Most positive event
E.g., surprise package, good MCAT scores
Rated how important it was
Capitalization: “I let others know about the event/issue.”
70.8% of days
results
On days when people capitalized (shared positive event)
Higher positive affect and life satisfaction
Above and beyond the importance of the most positive and the stressfulness of
the most negative event of the day
Another study investigated why sharing -> higher well-being
Better memory for events that are shared!
Why is it so beneficial?
Telling others about positive events confers added benefit, over and above the event
itself
Re-experience the event
Fosters social interactions
Boosts self-esteem, facilitates positive reflected appraisals
Enhances intimacy and closeness
Capitalization as a dyadic process
Capitalization, just like support, is a dyadic process.
Relationship outcomes depend on how the partner responds to capitalization
disclosure
It is possible for people to reinterpret your positive events in such a way as to
minimize their positive impact.
Measuring CAP responses
“Please take a moment to consider how your partner responds when you tell him or
her about something good that has happened to you. For example, imagine that you
come home and tell your partner about receiving a promotion at work, having a great
conversation with a family member, getting a raise, winning a prize, or doing well on
an exam at school or a project at work. Please consider to what extent your partner
does the following things in response to your good fortune.”
I got an A on my PSY327 test!
Active constructive: OMG, that is so exciting!
Passive constructive: That’s nice.
Active destructive: It must have been really easy since I know you didn’t study very
hard.
Passive destructive: What’s for dinner?
Passive-constructive and relationship satisfaction
Partner doesn’t see event as important
Partner doesn’t see relationship as important
Partner feels threatened, jealous, or is distracted by personal concerns.
Individual differences
Are some people more affected by capitalization than others?
Attachment anxiety
Are we less likely to capitalize with certain people?
Self-esteem
Attachment and capitalization
Anxiously attached people are more vigilant to cues of rejection and acceptance.
It’s likely that they will be especially reactive to responsive capitalization—more so
than people lower in attachment anxiety.
10-day daily experience study of 39 couples
Attachment anxiety
Daily measures of positive events shared with partner, perceptions of partner’s
responsiveness, satisfaction
Self-esteem and capitalization
People more likely to share if they expect their good news will be well-received.
People will be less likely to capitalize to a partner low in self-esteem
Other-focused: don’t want to make partner feel inferior
Self-focused: expect interaction will go poorly for themselves
Study 1: romantic relationships
87 undergrads in romantic relationships
Wrote down “something positive that happened to [them] recently”
20 questions designed to measure their “partner’s personality”
From this, given false feedback that their partner was low in SE or no feedback
(would get the feedback later)
Dependent variable: write an email to partner sharing good news
Study 1: results
Coders rated the positivity of the good news in the emails
Participants wrote less positive emails when they thought their partner was low in
self-esteem than when they received no feedback.
Study 2: friendship
82 undergrads
Wrote down “a recent accomplishment”
20 questions designed to measure their “friend’s personality”
From this, given false feedback that their friend was low in SE or no feedback
(would get the feedback later)
Dependent variable: write an email to friend sharing good news
Study 2: results
Coders rated the positivity of the good news in the emails
Participants wrote less positive emails when they thought their friend was low in self-
esteem than when they received no feedback.
Used fewer positive emotion words
Elaborated less on importance of accomplishment
Study 3: why don’t people share?
68 undergrads
Wrote down “something good that happened to [them] recently”
As before, given false feedback about friend’s self-esteem
Dependent variables
positivity of email
how they expected friend to feel (other-focused concerns)
how they expected their friend to behave (self-focused concerns)
Study 3: measures
• Other-focused concerns
Friend would “feel inferior” or “feel jealous”
Self-focused concerns
Friend would “point out the potential down sides of the good event,” “find a
problem with the good thing that happened to me,” “not pay much attention to
me,” and “seem disinterested”
Study 3: results
Participants wrote less positive emails when they thought their friend was low in self-
esteem than when they received no feedback.
Effect driven by self-focused concerns, not other-focused concerns
Key take home messages
Capitalization involves sharing positive news with others to gain additional benefit.
Capitalization has personal benefits (boosts positive mood and self-esteem).
Capitalization can boost relationship satisfaction, if partners respond in active-
constructive ways.
Sometimes people fail to capitalize because they worry they won’t get these types of
responses.
Putting It All Together
Social support -> capitalization
Paradox of Social Support
Perceived social support is undoubtedly good for us
Actual received support shows mixed results
Not even consistently correlated with perceptions of social support!
So where on earth do these perceptions of support come from?
Capitalization is a source of perceived social support, because it provides a low-risk
way for people to demonstrate care and responsiveness.
Study 1
14 day diary study of 67 cohabiting couples
Daily Measures
Personal well-being (life satisfaction, happiness)
Did you tell partner about positive event?
Responsiveness
Did you tell you partner about a negative event?
Responsiveness
Daily Personal Well-Being
Increases in well being when sharing positive events with partner
Study 2
Longitudinal study of 76 participants
Initial session: perceived quality of social support
Daily measures: daily enacted support quality and capitalization quality
Two months later: Perceived quality of social support
Stability in perceptions over time
How a partner reacts when we share positive events that shapes our perceptions of
how socially supported we feel over time
In Sum
Perceived support is important for relationship quality.
Received support can be harmful, especially when visible (or doesn’t match people’s
needs).
Perceived support not correlated with received support.
Where do these perceptions come from?
Capitalization: safely testing the alarm
Week 8: Support and Capitalization
Wednesday, October 31, 2018 8:51 PM
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