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Title:Social support in parent-child relationships during emerging adulthood: examining the effects of mundane support and the support gap phenomenon
Author(s):Wang, Ningxin
Director of Research:Caughlin, John
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Caughlin, John
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Guntzviller, Lisa; Knobloch, Leanne; Raffaelli, Marcela
Department / Program:Communication
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Support gaps
Parent-child relationship
Emerging adulthood
Abstract:In this dissertation, I aim to expand on the conceptualization of social support in close relationships by proposing and explicating a new type of support – mundane support, which is defined as social support delivered through relational partners’ everyday, mundane interactions without targeting at specific stressors. Based on previous research and findings of a pilot study, I developed and refined a scale to measure mundane support. Moreover, increasing research suggests that receiving social support is not always beneficial to support recipients or the relationships between support providers and recipients. Therefore, this dissertation also aims to enhance our understanding of the effects of supportive communication in close relationships. Specifically, I employed the social support gaps approach to examine whether the discrepancies between (a) the amount of support received and what is desired (reported by support recipient) and (b) the amount of support provided and perception of the recipient’s desire for support (reported by support provider) would be associated with the dyad’s relationship satisfaction and each person’s subjective well-being. This dissertation examined social support and support gaps in the context of parent-child relationships during the children’s emerging adulthood. Based on self-report data collected from a sample of parent-emerging adult dyads (N = 156), I investigated whether child-reported and parent-reported support gaps were associated with children’s and parents’ relationship satisfaction, satisfaction with life, and perceived stress level. Findings showed that measures of mundane support were significantly linked to several outcomes, indicating the merits of studying mundane support as a distinct type of social support in close relationships. Child-reported support deficits (i.e. receiving less support than what was desired) and support surpluses (i.e., receiving more support than what was desired) tended to be negatively associated with children’s relationship satisfaction. Yet, support deficits were in general more problematic than surpluses because deficits in several types of support were also negatively linked to parents’ relationship satisfaction and children’s satisfaction with life. Parent-reported underprovision (i.e., providing less support than child’s desire) of emotional and network support were negatively associated with parents’ relationship satisfaction, although parent-reported overprovision (i.e., providing more support than child’s desire) was not significantly related to any of the outcomes. Furthermore, the associations between support gaps and the proposed outcomes varied across different types of support. These findings offer theoretical implications for the research on social support in close relationships, suggesting that the support gaps approach holds great promise for understanding the effects of supportive communication. Results also yield practical guidance for parents who grapple with how to provide effective social support to their emerging adult children.
Issue Date:2017-07-11
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Ningxin Wang
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-03-02
Date Deposited:2017-08

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