Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
Mandatory Fields
Hughes, BM;Creaven, AM
2009
January
Handbook Of Social Interactions In The 21st Century
ACHIEVING GREATER THEORETICAL SOPHISTICATION IN RESEARCH ON SOCIALLY SUPPORTIVE INTERACTIONS AND HEALTH
Published
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Optional Fields
MYOCARDIAL-INFARCTION LIFE EVENTS STRESS REACTIVITY RESPONSES DEPRESSION MODERATORS MORTALITY CORTISOL DISEASE
125
135
Supportive social interactions are believed to be important moderators of the phenomenological experience of stress, and so to benefit individuals by ameliorating negative outcomes. This valorization of social support as universally beneficial to humanity has stimulated an overwhelming research literature in health psychology, which emphasizes several inverse statistical associations between social support and physical disease. As this focus resonates with widely-held cultural assumptions about altruism, the health-positive reputation of social cohesion and Mutual supportiveness appears at times to be virtually indisputable.Guided by this worldview, scientific attention has focused on exploring precisely how socially supportive relationships exert positive impacts. However, despite copious research, several particular aspects of the construct and ecology of social support have been neglected in health psychology literature. As well as lacking a specific definition of "social support", health-focused research has conspicuously failed to link with the wider social psychology literature and the important paradigms it offers. Individual differences in how recipients might interpret and respond to offers of support are also under-researched. Empirically, health-focused research on social Support relies heavily on cross-sectional or laboratory paradigms, which threaten internal and external validity.We argue that the fundamentally atheoretical nature of health psychology research on socially supportive interactions and relationships weakens its explanatory power. We argue for greater theoretical sophistication in these investigations, and show how the integration of such research with the wider social psychology literature offers a superior set of paradigms within which the undoubtedly important impact of social interactions on health can be explicated.
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