New Horizons in Management series
Chapter 29: Social Support in the Work Stress Context
Roman Cieslak Introduction For the last 50 years social support has been one of the most frequently investigated variables in psychology. Social support gained attention not because of theoretical developments addressing the social support concept and its role, but because of practitioners’ observations that across a variety of stressful situations, social support has a positive eﬀect on heath and well-being. However, a lack of theoretical background in studying social support was, and sometimes still is, a main problem of the research supporting this area. Years of intensive investigation of the concept ﬁnally led to some conclusions, but there is still a ﬁeld for future development. One of the conclusions that can be drawn from the last decades of research is that the social support concept served as an umbrella term for many researchers: the same term was often used to describe diﬀerent concepts and phenomena. The second conclusion is that social support is a multidimensional phenomenon, and such aspects of social support as its source (e.g., family, friends, co-workers, and supervisors), type (e.g., emotional, appraisal, instrumental, and informational support), direction (giving or receiving support), reciprocity, and visibility may be related to health, well-being, stress, or other variables in diﬀerent ways. Finally, social support is a context-sensitive variable. Positive and negative functions ascribed to it depend on matching between social support characteristics (e.g., perceived social support from supervisors) and characteristics of an outcome variable (e.g., work-related well-being). These context-sensitive eﬀects of social support are also extended to...
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