Gender effects on social support provision and receipt

Authors


  • We thank Keith Davis, Anita Barbee, and three anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions on an earlier version of this article.

Please address all correspondence to Kristin D. Mickelson or Vicki S. Helgeson, Department of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213. E-mail address: km4r@andrew.cmu.eduorvh2e@andrew.cmu.edu

Abstract

This study was conducted to examine the influence of gender on social support provision and receipt using both self-report and observational methodologies. In response to another person sharing a problem, we predicted that men would be more likely than women to provide advice, and women would be more likely than men to provide emotional support. We also predicted women would be more likely than men to receive emotional support, and men would be more likely than women to receive negative support. Sixty-one pairs of college students, same-sex and mixed-sex dyads, shared a problem with each other. Problem-sharing transactions were audiotaped and transcribed for content analysis. Opposite-sex providers offered more emotional support than did same-sex providers, whereas same-sex providers listened more than did opposite-sex providers. No gender differences were found for advice-giving. Men were more likely than women to receive negative support. These results suggest that gender composition of the dyad has a greater influence on support provision and receipt than provider or recipient gender alone.

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