Theorists claim that emotional support is one of the most significant provisions of close relationships, and studies suggest that the receipt of sensitive emotional support is associated with diverse indices of well–being. Research highlighting the beneficial outcomes of emotional support raises several important questions: Does emotional support play a similar role in the personal relationships of both men and women and those representing different ethnicities and nationalities? Is what counts as effective, sensitive, emotional support the same for everyone? And when seeking to provide emotional support, do members of distinct social groups pursue similar or different goals? This article reviews and synthesizes empirical research assessing gender, ethnic, and cultural differences in emotional support in the effort to ascertain the extent and import of these differences. Particular attention is given to demographic differences in (a) the value placed on the emotional support skills of relationship partners, (b) the intentions or goals viewed as especially relevant in emotional support situations, and (c) the evaluation of distinct approaches to providing emotional support. Theoretical, methodological, and practical implications of the findings are explored.
Personal Relationships – Wiley
Published: Mar 1, 2003
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