Why is enacted social support associated with increased distress? Using simulation to test two possible sources of spuriousness

Gwendolyn Seidman, Patrick E. Shrout, Niall Bolger

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Although perceiving that social support is available is often associated with psychological benefits in times of stress, there is evidence that actually receiving support is associated with increased distress. To assess whether this latter association could be spurious, the authors conducted computer simulation studies to examine two theoretical models that could give rise to it. Study 1 examined a process whereby distress leads to provision of support rather than the reverse. Study 2 examined a process whereby an adverse event increases both support and distress. In both cases, substantial spurious associations were produced only when parameter values were markedly unrealistic. It was concluded that these possible sources of spuriousness are insufficient to explain the association between support and distress found in naturalistic studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-65
Number of pages14
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2006



  • Simulation
  • Social support
  • Statistical analysis
  • Stress and coping
  • Theory testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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