Handbook of Managerial Behavior and Occupational Health
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Handbook of Managerial Behavior and Occupational Health

Edited by Alexander-Stamatios G. Antoniou, Cary L. Cooper, George P. Chrousos, Charles D. Spielberger and Michael William Eysenck

This exciting Handbook provides an authoritative and comprehensive overview of managerial behavior and occupational health.
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Chapter 29: Social Support in the Work Stress Context

Roman Cieslak


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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