Making support work: The interplay between social support and social identity
Previous research has found mixed results regarding the stress buffering effects of social support. In an attempt to explain these findings, we build on the social identity approach. Specifically, we hypothesize that social support buffers stress reactions only if a shared social identity between the provider and recipient of support is evoked. Using the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST), participants were confronted with either (a) a supportive or (b) an unsupportive committee. Beforehand, the salience of either a shared social identity between the participant and the committee or personal identity was manipulated. As predicted, a supportive TSST committee buffered the neuroendocrine stress reaction only if a shared social identity between participants and the committee was established. For self-reported strain, no such pattern was observed. This study provides the first experimental evidence for the idea that the effectiveness of social support depends on the match of underlying identities.
Frisch, J.U., Häusser, J.A., Van Dick, R., & Mojzisch, A. (in press). Making support work: The interplay between social support and social identity. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology