We propose a comprehensive explanation for gender differences in responses to supportive communication grounded in a dual-process theory of communication outcomes. Two studies confirmed consistent gender differences in responses by US college students to supportive communication and assessed the mediating effects of an ability factor (cognitive complexity) and two motivational factors (expressive and instrumental orientations) on situation elaboration and message evaluation. Study 1 focused on everyday comforting contexts (N = 318), whereas Study 2 focused on bereavement (N = 103). Both studies found that cognitive complexity mediated gender differences in situation elaboration and further found that cognitive complexity and expressive orientation collectively mediated gender differences in evaluative responses to supportive messages. Theoretical and pragmatic implications of the results are discussed.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 21, 2009
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