Standard Article

Social Support

  1. Robert H. Friis

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0900

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Friis, R. H. 2010. Social Support. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. California State University, Long Beach

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


At its most general level, social support refers to helpful interpersonal relationships that derive from one's friends, family members, other contacts, and the larger society (Friis & Sellers, 2009). Social support engenders the sense that one is cared for and loved, esteemed and valued, or is part of a network of mutual interpersonal commitments. However, as a formal construct, social support is not easily defined and can be subdivided approximately into structural (quantitative) and functional (qualitative) domains (Helgeson, 2003). The former pertains to the number, structure, and pattern of networks that one maintains with other people or organizations. The mere existence of social ties is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for social support, nor is the absolute number of ties strongly correlated with social support. In fact, some social ties may be intrusive, stressful, or at best, perfunctory.


  • buffering hypothesis;
  • coping;
  • psychological stress;
  • psychosocial interventions;
  • social isolation