Behavioral Research

Table of Contents
1 Introduction

Theoretical Perspectives


Measures and Measurements


Related Concepts and Measures






Measures Appendix

8 Published Examples

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Other Constructs



Dispositional Optimism




Illness Representations

  Implementation Intentions
  Intention, Expectation, and Willingness
  Normative Beliefs
  Optimistic Bias
  Perceived Benefits
  Perceived Control
  Perceived Severity
  Perceived Vulnerability
  Self-Reported Behavior
  Social Influence
  Social Support

Social Support
Brian Lakey

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Related Concepts and Measures

Social Conflict
Measures of social conflict (i.e., interpersonal stress, negative support, social undermining or criticism) are typically associated with poor mental health, raising questions about the extent to which social conflict and perceived support reflect different constructs, i.e., are independently linked to mental health (Finch, Okun, Pool, & Ruehlman, 1999; Okun & Lockwood, 2003). The extent to which social conflict and perceived support are partially redundant appears to depend on measurement procedures. For example, when participants rate spouses, the two constructs appear to be less distinct; when participants rate their social networks more generally, the two constructs appear to be independent (Okun & Lockwood, 2003).

Adult Attachment
Research on adult attachment style has grown quickly in recent years, and measures of attachment style are related to many of the same mental health variables as is perceived support (Rholes & Simpson, 2004). Theoretically, there is substantial overlap between the concepts of secure attachment and social support, as most descriptions of secure attachment, especially the construct of "internal working models of others," name social support as a defining characteristic (Collins & Feeney, 2004). Although there is not an extensive literature on the relation between social support and attachment, what is available suggests the two constructs are linked in important ways (Collins and Feeney, 2004). Future research will need to outline the extent to which attachment and social support effects are redundant.

Relationship Satisfaction and Intimacy
Much less work has been conducted on the extent to which social support is redundant with the constructs of relationship satisfaction and intimacy, especially regarding marriage. Yet, it is hard to imagine an important relationship that was perceived as satisfying and intimate but not supportive. Social support theories hypothesize that social support involves a specific type of social interaction, and therefore it is important to show that such interactions make a contribution to health that goes beyond generic relationship satisfaction and intimacy. Preliminary work suggests that the two constructs are closely linked (Kaul & Lakey, 2003; Reis & Franks, 1994), but additional studies are needed.

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