Understanding Advice in Supportive Interactions

Beyond the Facework and Message Evaluation Paradigm


Erina MacGeorge, Department of Communication, Purdue University, Beering Hall 2114, 100 N. University St., West Lafayette, Indiana, 47907–2067; email: emacgeorge@sla.purdue.edu.


Previous research on advice in supportive interactions has focused on the influence of facework, and has not systematically considered the effects of advice content. Further, this research has obtained quality evaluations of researcher-constructed messages rather than assessing the outcomes of naturally occurring advice. The current study examines the relative influence of advice content characteristics (usefulness, feasibility, and absence of limitations), facework, and support-seekers' receptiveness to advice on advice message quality evaluations and advice outcomes (facilitation of coping, sufficiency of support, and intention to implement the advice). Participants (N = 280) completed questionnaires reporting on a recent instance of receiving advice with regard to a personal problem. Results indicated that the predictor variables had diverse impacts on message evaluations and outcomes. Absence of limitations and support-seeker receptiveness to advice had the most consistent influence across the dependent variables. Facework had a less consistent influence, but did have a major impact on facilitation of coping.