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Research Report on ‘Wellbeing and Giving and Receiving of Social Support’. Essay Example

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This research was carried out to establish the relationship between receiving and giving social support to well-being. A total of 432 participants were sampled and all the sampled individuals were college students whose age ranged from 16 to 66. The study was in form of a questionnaire and a 2-Way Social Support Scale was used in which four principle dimensions were concurrently appraised: providing emotional support; providing instrumental support; getting emotional support and getting instrumental support. Correlation between the four principle dimensions indicated a strong relation between well being and giving and receiving social support. Both giving and receiving of social support should be practiced by individuals since they result in a stress free life.

Literature review

Ryff & Keyes (1995) view that individuals and the whole society need social support for their physical and psychological well being. Previous researches show that people who get high level social support have good health as well as well-being. They also indicate that such people have healthier strategies of coping up during moments of adversity. It is also realized that people who get high level social support find it easy to prevent and reduce symptoms of major illness.

Various Research activities carried out on the benefits of providing social support link the benefits to both receiving and providing social support. According to Williams, Barclay & Schmied (2004) research based on receiving social support indicate that providing social support results in reduction in the rates of mortality. Though not much research has been done on the same, the few indicate that those providing the support as volunteers have a high level of happiness.

Bidirectional support hypothesis shows that there is a psychological benefit to people who receive and give social support over long periods compared to those who provide and receive with an aim of summative benefiting. The researches also emphasize that a degree of equilibrium should be maintained between providing and acquiring social support. Giving enhances satisfaction in life but excessive giving can cause distress.

Emotional support entails showing emotional concern to other individuals such as loving and liking while instrumental aid refers to providing support services (Lang, 2001). Supportive individuals pay attention to other people’s emotions and provide assistance. Providing assistance to a person who needs social support results in satisfaction of both the giver and the receiver hence both the two have well-being.

Social support can be categorized into two distinct dimensions: instrumental support and emotional support. Lang (2001) argues that various studies conducted accord support to the view that the numerous types of social support can be refined into two main dimensions: instrumental support and emotional support. The above literature reviews have indicated the benefits of giving and receiving of social support to an individual’s well being.

A research study was carried out to establish the relationship between receiving and giving social support to well-being. In the study, a 2-Way Social Support Scale (2- Way SSS) that uses community samples was created. In the scale, four principle dimensions were concurrently appraised: providing emotional support; providing instrumental support; getting emotional support and getting instrumental support.

Methods and Results


Sampling of participants was done twice and the number of those sampled was the same in all the two samples. The first sample consisted of 432 participants, all were university students. The number of males was 148 (34.3%) while females were 284 (65.7%) and their ages ranged between 16 to 66 years.

The second sample still consisted of 432 participants who were all university students, 284 (65.7%) females and 148 (34.3%) males and had age ranges of 16 to 66 years.


Participants responded to various items which assessed: providing emotional support; providing instrumental support; receiving emotional support and receiving instrumental support by an individual. Those participating were supposed to indicate the degree of truthfulness of the statement. A six point Linkert Scale that ranged from 0 representing not at all to 5 representing always was provided. The higher scores gave an indication of high level receiving or provision of social support. All the two samples were assessed by the scale.

In 1983 Cohen and his colleagues devised the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) which contains ten items that assess the stress level in individuals. Measurement of the responses to the stresses is done on a 5 point Linkert Scale that ranges from 0 representing never to 4 representing Fairly Often. Wording of some of the items on the scale is negative hence are reversely scored. Having accounted for that the PPS’s higher scores represents high stress levels.

The K10 scale is an instrument with ten items and was used in showing symptoms of depressions that people exhibit. A five point Linkert scale that ranges from zero representing none of the time to four representing all the time, was used for measurement of depression. High scores indicated high symptoms of depression.

The sample was also tested with the Satisfaction with Life Scale (SLS) that gave an indication of individual’s life satisfaction. Its measurements were based on a seven point Linkert scale. More satisfaction with life was indicated by higher response averages.

The second sample’s general well being was determined by the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ). It is a 12 item scale that asked participants questions about their happiness and daily functioning. The response was done on a four point Linkert Scale where greater well-being was indicated by higher average responses.

For purposes of comparison of the 2-Way SSS to other social life measures Berlin Social Support Scale (BSSS) was used. Schulz and Schwarzer in 2003 designed the BSSS which is an eight item scale that focuses on receiving social support. Measurement of responses is done on a four point Linkert Scale on which 1 indicates Strong Disagreement while four gives an indication of Strong Agreement. The scales’ items are statements that inquire about systems of support availed to an individual. Higher social support levels are demonstrated by higher average responses.

The SSQ Scale was also used to measure the level of social support. It has 27 items and an individual was supposed to: list people that they can seek assistance from when in certain situations; give an indication of satisfaction level gotten from the services of the listed people.

Exploratory factor analysis of the first sample was done through SPSS so as to refine the items to the strongest. Confirmatory factor analysis was carried out on the second sample data via AMOS. That was aimed at validating the factor structure that was derived from sample one. Two overaching exogenous variables of receiving and giving social support were presented by the model.

29 items in the 2- Way SSS were taken through Principle Component Analysis. A .93 Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin demonstrated high level sampling adequacy. It also had a significant Bartlett’s Sphericity Test hence provided support for the data’s factorability.

Information from research shows that well–being is affected by age and sex differences. Positive relations is high among the older people compared to young ones. Positive relations were also affected by an individual’s sex since women scored higher than men. In all the measurements there was an assumption that errors occurred randomly. The assumption was aimed at ensuring that the measurement model used was devoid of errors.

The first factor had 9 items receiving support while the second factor had 7 factors providing social support. The third factor had 7 items giving instrumental support and the fourth factor had 4 items getting instrumental support.

An evaluation of the validity of the 2-Way SSS was done through various hierarchical regression analyses. Three separate analyses were done on the first sample: the PSS that indicated stress level; depression indication by K10; and satisfaction indication by SWLS. In the second sample GHQ was used to test for the general health of the participants. The four 2-Way SSS through regression analysis produced a predictive model that was significant.

Skorka (2007) views that from the analysis of the research models, it is evident that receiving emotional support has a negative relation to depression, enhances positive general health and life satisfaction. Receiving emotional support is also not related to stressful situations experienced by individuals.

Receiving instrumental support positively affects life satisfaction and is related to perceived stress negatively. Providing emotional support was positively related to individual’s general health and negatively related to stress in the individual. Providing instrumental support increases an individual’s life satisfaction (Skorka, 2007).

Std. Deviation

Table 1. Showing the Age Limits, Mean and Standard Deviation.

Std. Deviation

Table 2. Showing the Mean and Standard Deviation of Total Well-Being

Pearson Correlation

Sig. (2-tailed)

Pearson Correlation

Sig. (2-tailed)

Pearson Correlation

Sig. (2-tailed)

Table 3. Showing Correlation of Total Well-Being to Receiving and Giving


This research was meant to establish the relationship between receiving and giving social support to well being. In the study, exploratory PCA and CFA were used and provided adequate information about the relationship across the two samples. The exploratory PCA clearly separated the items into receiving, giving support and instrumental support. Validity of the 2-Way SSS four subscales was seen through strong correlations between other social support measures and the subscales.

According to Shakespeare-Finch and Obst, BSSS and SSQ are strongly related to reception of emotional support. Low depression, good general health are positively enhanced by receiving emotional support. As measured by K10 an individual is les affected by depression if he receives emotional support. The used scale has established that giving and receiving social support are important to well being.

The research carried out was not short of limitations and one of the limitations was that the research varied the number of participants in terms of gender. The second limitation is that the research depended on self-report data. In that case the results from the research are termed preliminary and supporting evidence may be required in future studies. This research opens the way for other studies to be carried out concerning the relationship between giving and receiving social support and well-being. In this regard an individual can enhance his well-being if he gives and receives social support.


Lang, F.R. (2001). Regulation of social relationships in later adulthood. Journals of

Gerontology: Series B: Psychological Science and Social Sciences, 56B, 321-326.

Ryff, C. D., & Keyes, C. L., (1995). The Structure of Psychological Well-Being Revisited.

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Vol. 69, No. 4,719-727

Shakespeare-Finch, J., and Obst, P., L. (in press). Development of the 2-Way Social Support

Journal of Personality Assessment Scale: A measure of giving and receiving, emotional and instrumental support.

Skorka, I. (2007). The development of a bi-direction scale of giving and receiving social support.

Unpublished Postgraduate Diploma Thesis, Queensland University of Technology.

Williams, P., Barclay, L., & Schmied, V. (2004). Defining social support in context: A necessary

step in improving research, intervention, and practice. Qualitative Health Research, 14, 942-960