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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 3 support received from partners are particularly predictive of relationship dissatisfaction (Baxter, 1986; Sprecher, Metts, Burleson, Hatfield, & Thompson, 1995; Wan, Jaccard, & Ramey, 1996), and may even be injurious to physical health (e.g., Helgeson & Cohen, 1996; Rook & Underwood, 2000). Growing appreciation for the role and outcomes of emotional support in close relationships has led to increased efforts to identify the characteristics of effective and ineffective messages intended to provide this type of support (see reviews by Burleson, 1994b; Burleson & Goldsmith, 1998; Dunkel-Schetter et al., 1992). In line with research on the nature of effective comforting messages, questions have also been raised about whether men and women have the same kinds of emotional experiences, view communication similarly as a resource for managing social situations, seek similar sorts of support from their relationship partners, and are supported emotionally by the same sorts of comforting messages ( e.g., Cancian, 1987; Fischer & Manstead, 2000; Gudykunst & Matsumoto, 1996; Lutz, 1988; Noller, 1993; Swain, 1989; Tannen, 1990; Wood, 1993; Wood & Inman, 1993). An exploration of whether what counts as effective emotional support differs for men and women should have considerable conceptual utility, especially for theories of emotion and communication. More specifically, the study of emotional support processes and outcomes can help us understand the nature of emotional experiences and the factors that provoke – and alter – various emotions (Burleson & Planalp, 2000). Explorations of gender differences and similarities in emotional support processes should also have considerable pragmatic relevance. If what counts as "quality" support differs for men and women, then practice, pedagogy, and therapy all need to reflect this fact (Kunkel & Burleson, 1998; Wood, 1993).

Authors: Jones, Susanne. and Burleson, Brant.
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Effects of Helper and Recipient Sex 3
support received from partners are particularly predictive of relationship dissatisfaction (Baxter,
1986; Sprecher, Metts, Burleson, Hatfield, & Thompson, 1995; Wan, Jaccard, & Ramey, 1996),
and may even be injurious to physical health (e.g., Helgeson & Cohen, 1996; Rook &
Underwood, 2000).
Growing appreciation for the role and outcomes of emotional support in close
relationships has led to increased efforts to identify the characteristics of effective and ineffective
messages intended to provide this type of support (see reviews by Burleson, 1994b; Burleson &
Goldsmith, 1998; Dunkel-Schetter et al., 1992). In line with research on the nature of effective
comforting messages, questions have also been raised about whether men and women have the
same kinds of emotional experiences, view communication similarly as a resource for managing
social situations, seek similar sorts of support from their relationship partners, and are supported
emotionally by the same sorts of comforting messages ( e.g., Cancian, 1987; Fischer &
Manstead, 2000; Gudykunst & Matsumoto, 1996; Lutz, 1988; Noller, 1993; Swain, 1989;
Tannen, 1990; Wood, 1993; Wood & Inman, 1993).
An exploration of whether what counts as effective emotional support differs for men and
women should have considerable conceptual utility, especially for theories of emotion and
communication. More specifically, the study of emotional support processes and outcomes can
help us understand the nature of emotional experiences and the factors that provoke – and alter –
various emotions (Burleson & Planalp, 2000). Explorations of gender differences and
similarities in emotional support processes should also have considerable pragmatic relevance.
If what counts as "quality" support differs for men and women, then practice, pedagogy, and
therapy all need to reflect this fact (Kunkel & Burleson, 1998; Wood, 1993).


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