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Support Seeking and culture

December 3, 2012

This is another article I particularly enjoy and see as potentially useful in the analysis of YA lit…

Abstract: “This research examined whether people from collectivistic cultures are less likely to seek social support than are people from individualistic cultures because they are more cautious about potentially disturbing their social network. Study 1 found that Asian Americans from a more collectivistic culture sought social support less and found support seeking to be less effective than European Americans from a more individualistic culture. Study 2 found that European Americans’ willingness to seek support was unaffected by relationship priming, whereas Asian Americans were willing to seek support less when the relationship primed was closer to the self. Study 3 replicated the results of Study 2 and found that the tendency to seek support and expect social support to be helpful as related to concerns about relationships. These findings underscore the importance of culturally divergent relationship patterns in understanding social support transactions.” (italics in original, p.1595)

“Negative events such as failing an exam or finding out about a high cholesterol level can lead people to take many different courses of action. Individuals may change their study or eating habits, try to convince themselves that the problem is not very grave, or talk to close others to solicit their help and sympathy. The course of action people take and how effectively those actions resolve the stressor obviously depend on the exact nature of the problem and the social circumstances. However, among many different strategies, social support is one of the most effective coping strategies by which a person can alleviate the negative impact of stress (Seeman, 1996; Taylor, in press; Thoits, 1995). Consequently, soliciting social support from close others is encouraged and generally brings about positive coping outcomes (Taylor, in press).
However, there are many factors that affect the extent to which people seek social support (Cohen, Sherrod, & Clark, 1986; Dunkel-Schetter, Folkman, & Lazarus, 1987). For instance, research on culture and social support seeking shows that Asians/Asian Americans are less willing to seek social support in dealing with their stressful events compared to European Americans (Taylor et al., 2004). This research also showed that the cultural difference in support seeking is due to Asians/Asian Americans feeling more concerned about the negative implications of social support seeking for their relationships, such as burdening others and losing face.” (p.1595)

Ref: Heejung S. Kim, David K. Sherman, Deborah Ko, and Shelley E. Taylor (2006) Pursuit of Comfort and Pursuit of Harmony: Culture, Relationships, and Social Support Seeking. PSPB 32(12) December, pp.1595-1607 [the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc.]
Reference is made to: Cohen, Sherrod, & Clark, 1986 Social skills and the stress-protective role of social support. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 963-973
Dunkel-Schetter, Folkman, & Lazarus, (1987) Correlates of social support receipt. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53, 71-80
Seeman, 1996
Taylor, SE in press. Social Support. In HS Friedman & RC Silver (Eds.) Oxford handbook of health psychology. New York: Oxford University Press
Taylor et al., 2004 Culture and social support: who seeks it and why? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 87, 354-362
Thoits, 1995 Stress, coping and social support processes: Where are we? What next? Journal of Health and Social Behavior, pp. 53-79

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