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Effects of Helper and Recipient Sex on the Experience and Outcomes of Comforting Messages: An Experimental Investigation
Unformatted Document Text:  Effects of Helper and Recipient Sex 2 Effects of Helper and Recipient Sex on the Experience and Outcomes of Comforting Messages: An Experimental Investigation Social support is a core provision of personal relationships (Cunningham & Barbee, 2000; Gottman, 2001; Weiss, 1974) and an important determinant of satisfaction with these relationships (Acitelli, 1996; Samter, 1994). In general, social support can be understood as assistance that people seek to convey to those they perceive as needing some form of help (Dunkel-Schetter, Blasband, Feinstein, & Herbert, 1992); such assistance can take a variety of forms, including tangible support (e.g., money, physical help), informational support (e.g., directions, advice), and emotional support (e.g., expressions of care, concern, affection, and interest) (see Cutrona & Russell, 1990; House, 1981). In particular, emotional support has been defined as the provision of “comfort and security during times of stress [that leads] the person to feel he or she is cared for by others” (Cutrona & Russell, 1990, p. 322). People report that emotional support is one of the most, if not the most, desired and important types of social support provided by relationship partners (Cutrona & Russell, 1987; Xu & Burleson, 2001). The emotional support provided by close relationships often has salutary effects, helping those in need cope more effectively with problem situations, manage upset feelings, and maintain a positive sense of self (Burleson, 1994b; Stroebe & Stroebe, 1996). Abundant research also indicates that those with emotionally supportive social networks enjoy better physical health than those with emotionally unsupportive networks (Berkman, Glass, Brissette, & Seeman, 2000; Sarason, Sarason, & Gurung, 1997). Recipients of sensitive emotional support have been found to recover more quickly from various diseases and injuries and may even live longer when battling afflictions such as heart disease and breast cancer (Seeman, 2001; Spiegel & Kimerling, 2001). Deficiencies in the quantity or quality of emotional

Authors: Jones, Susanne. and Burleson, Brant.
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Effects of Helper and Recipient Sex 2
Effects of Helper and Recipient Sex on the Experience and Outcomes of Comforting Messages:
An Experimental Investigation
Social support is a core provision of personal relationships (Cunningham & Barbee,
2000; Gottman, 2001; Weiss, 1974) and an important determinant of satisfaction with these
relationships (Acitelli, 1996; Samter, 1994). In general, social support can be understood as
assistance that people seek to convey to those they perceive as needing some form of help
(Dunkel-Schetter, Blasband, Feinstein, & Herbert, 1992); such assistance can take a variety of
forms, including tangible support (e.g., money, physical help), informational support (e.g.,
directions, advice), and emotional support (e.g., expressions of care, concern, affection, and
interest) (see Cutrona & Russell, 1990; House, 1981). In particular, emotional support has been
defined as the provision of “comfort and security during times of stress [that leads] the person to
feel he or she is cared for by others” (Cutrona & Russell, 1990, p. 322).
People report that emotional support is one of the most, if not the most, desired and
important types of social support provided by relationship partners (Cutrona & Russell, 1987; Xu
& Burleson, 2001). The emotional support provided by close relationships often has salutary
effects, helping those in need cope more effectively with problem situations, manage upset
feelings, and maintain a positive sense of self (Burleson, 1994b; Stroebe & Stroebe, 1996).
Abundant research also indicates that those with emotionally supportive social networks enjoy
better physical health than those with emotionally unsupportive networks (Berkman, Glass,
Brissette, & Seeman, 2000; Sarason, Sarason, & Gurung, 1997). Recipients of sensitive
emotional support have been found to recover more quickly from various diseases and injuries
and may even live longer when battling afflictions such as heart disease and breast cancer
(Seeman, 2001; Spiegel & Kimerling, 2001). Deficiencies in the quantity or quality of emotional


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