The Relative Contribution of Trait and Social Influences to the Links Among Perceived Social Support, Affect, and Self-Esteem


  • David Kenny provided valuable statistical advice. Any remaining statistical problems are solely the fault of the authors. Anonymous reviewers and Freda Giblin provided valuable conceptual guidance.

  • This article is dedicated to the memory of Norman S. Endler.

concerning this article should be addressed to Brian Lakey, Department of Psychology, 71 W. Warren Ave. Wayne State University, Detroit, MI., 48202. E-mail:


Abstract Although perceived support is influenced by both the personality traits of support recipients as well as various social factors, it is unknown to what extent these two types of influences account for perceived support's link to mental health. We investigated these relations using multivariate generalizability analyses. In three samples, both the trait and social influence components of perceived support were related to favorable affect and to self-esteem. The magnitude of the correlations between perceived support and mental health was similar for both the trait and social influence components. Similar findings were obtained for social conflict, although the links between conflict and mental health varied somewhat depending upon the level of analysis. These findings suggest that social support theories and interventions should include both trait and social mechanisms to explain and modify perceived support and mental health.