P1: VENDOR/GDX/GEE/GIR P2: GFU/GGN QC:
Sex Roles [sers] PP229-343643 August 23, 2001 10:20 Style ﬁle version Nov. 19th, 1999
Sex Roles, Vol. 44, Nos. 7/8, 2001
Use of Social Support: Gender and
Gretchen M. Reevy
and Christina Maslach
University of California, Berkeley
Sex differences in social support have been explained in terms of gender differ-
ences in socialization and personality. The current research focused directly
on the link between social support and gender variables. An adult, largely
Caucasian sample of both sexes reported an experience in which they had
received support, and were assessed on masculinity, femininity, nurturance,
afﬁliation, autonomy, and self-conﬁdence. The results revealed that gender,
but not sex, was signiﬁcantly correlated with patterns of social support. Fem-
ininity (in both sexes) was associated with seeking and receiving emotional
support, and with seeking and receiving support from women. Masculinity (in
both sexes) was linked only with receiving tangible support. These ﬁndings
argue for the signiﬁcance of femininity in promoting a more social form of
well-being, and underscore the importance of studying gender directly rather
than relying on sex as a proxy variable.
Satisfaction with social relationships is an important contributor to gen-
eral experiences of well-being. Unsatisfactory relationships, as well as social
isolation and loneliness, are predictors of such negative outcomes as poor
physical health and various forms of mental illness. One of the beneﬁts of
relationships is social support, which provides people with increased feelings
of belonging and assistance from others. In order to optimize well-being, we
need to understand how people deal with social support—how they seek it,
how they are able to receive it, and how they utilize it.
There are several factors that make this task especially complex.
First, support can take several different forms: emotional support; social
To whom Correspondence should be addressed at Department of Psychology, California State
University, Hayward, California 94542-3091; e-mail: email@example.com.
2001 Plenum Publishing Corporation