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Biol Psychol. 2011 Feb;86(2):137-42. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2010.04.003. Epub 2010 Apr 14.

Social support and the reactivity hypothesis: conceptual issues in examining the efficacy of received support during acute psychological stress.

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Department of Psychology and Health Psychology Program, University of Utah, United States.


Social support has been reliably related to better physical health outcomes. One influential model suggests that social support is related to lower cardiovascular disease mortality because it reduces the potentially deleterious consequences of cardiovascular reactivity during acute stress. However, received support and perceived support are separable constructs and epidemiological research suggests variability in links between received support and health. This is important because most social support and acute laboratory stress studies are essentially based on the receipt of support. In this paper, we focus on the conceptualization of received support and its implications for understanding links to support laboratory reactivity paradigms. This analysis highlights the role of theoretically important task, recipient, and provider categories of factors that moderate the effectiveness of received support, as well as the need to examine links between naturalistic perceptions of support and cardiovascular reactivity during stress.

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