Concomitants of social support: Attitudes, personality characteristics, and life experiences


  • This research was supported in part by U.S. Office of Naval Research Contract No. N00014-80-C-0522, NR170-908. We are indebted to Hans F. M. Crombag, Steven L. Nielsen, and Jack Norris for assistance at various stages of this project. Requests for reprints should be sent to, Irwin G. Sarason, Department of Psychology NI-25, University of Washington, Seattle, Wash. 98195.


Determining the extent of social support and its consequences and personality correlates has been of increasing interest to researchers. The two studies reported here deal with the possibility that people low in social support are characterized by rigid, authoritarian personality characteristics and a lack of confidence in the support that informal social networks can provide. Groups differing in social support were compared on scales measuring attitudes toward mental illness and personal feelings of anomy. Subjects high in social support had more benign attitudes concerning the mentally ill and felt less anomy than did subjects low in social support. They also perceived their own early relationships with parents as being more positive. The findings are in agreement with several hypotheses about individual differences related to social support differences, and suggest that studies geared toward understanding the causal relations involved would be both theoretically and practically valuable.