The research reported in this paper was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (BNS 7923453). The authors are indebted to Lew Goldberg, Robyn Dawes, and Ray Hyman for their advice on statistical and psychometric issues, Rich Haller for his assistance in data analysis, and to Robyn Dawes and Tom Wills for their comments on an earlier draft.
Positive Events and Social Supports as Buffers of Life Change Stress†
Article first published online: 31 JUL 2006
Journal of Applied Social Psychology
Volume 13, Issue 2, pages 99–125, April 1983
How to Cite
Cohen, S. and Hoberman, H. M. (1983), Positive Events and Social Supports as Buffers of Life Change Stress. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 13: 99–125. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.1983.tb02325.x
- Issue published online: 31 JUL 2006
- Article first published online: 31 JUL 2006
A perceived availability of social support measure (the ISEL) was designed with independent subscales measuring four separate support functions. In a sample of college students, both perceived availability of social support and number of positive events moderated the relationship between negative life stress and depressive and physical symptomatology. In the case of depressive symptoms, the data fit a “buffering” hypothesis pattern, i.e., they suggest that both social support and positive events protect one from the pathogenic effects of high levels of life stress but are relatively unimportant for those with low levels of stress. In the case of physical symptoms, the data only partially support the buffering hypothesis. Particularly, the data suggest that both social support and positive events protect one from the pathogenic effects of high levels of stress but harm those (i.e., are associated with increased symptomatology) with low levels of stress. Further analyses suggest that self-esteem and appraisal support were primarily responsible for the reported interactions between negative life stress and social support. In contrast, frequency of past social support was not an effective life stress buffer in either the case of depressive or physical symptomatology. Moreover, past support frequency was positively related to physical symptoms and unrelated to depressive symptoms, while perceived availability of support was negatively related to depressive symptoms and unrelated to physical symptoms.