Social Support Opinions1


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    The authors thank Gretchen Van De Walle for her editorial comments; Anthony Iacovelli, Reid Spencer, and Deptina Valree for their help with survey administration; and Frank Gengaro for his help in participant recruitment.

Kent D. Harber, Department of Psychology, Rutgers University at Newark, Smith Hall, 101 Warren Street, Newark, NJ 07102. E-mail:


This research introduces the Social Support Opinion Survey (SSOS), the first measure of social support from the provider's perspective. Studies 1–3 developed the SSOS and confirmed that support opinions can be reliably characterized as directive (attempting to govern how others cope) and nondirective (facilitating without governing how others cope). Studies 4–6 showed that social support opinions relate to more basic cognitive, emotional, and interpersonal styles. Directive opinions were related to cognitive rigidity (need for structure, need for certainty, and just-world beliefs) and to an exchange orientation. Nondirective opinions, in contrast, were related to emotional differentiation, use of emotions as information, empathy, and a communal orientation. Thus, people may reveal who they are by how they help.