Previous observational research on invisible support has demonstrated that both subtle support (a provider effect) and lack of awareness of support received (a recipient effect) are crucial in predicting positive outcomes in the invisible support process (Howland & Simpson, 2010). One-hundred and fourteen individuals and their romantic partners participated in a lab experiment attempting to establish the causal role of these two components in predicting perceptions of support and support outcomes. Two variables were manipulated in a social support context: the type of support received (invisible, visible, or no-support) and recipients' ability to attend to support received (via cognitive load). Participants were asked to complete a mildly stressful task during which they received a supportive note (containing a randomly assigned support manipulation message) believed to be from their partners. They were randomly assigned to receive the message under cognitive load or under no cognitive load. The overarching prediction was that individuals receiving invisible support under cognitive load would perceive the least amount of support and benefit the most from it. Additional hypotheses were formed concerning the moderating role of recipient and partner attachment anxiety and avoidance. While little evidence was found consistent with the predictions made, some results emerged that were consistent with invisible support theory and previous research.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. July 2013: Major: Psychology. Advisors: Jeffry A. Simpson, PhD., Traci L. Mann, PhD. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 100 pages, appendices A-F.
Rutherford, Maryhope Howland.
Attention and support visibility in the receipt of social support.
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