Social Support, Personality, and Health

  • Irwin G. Sarason
Part of the Contributions to Psychology and Medicine book series (CONTRIBUTIONS)

Abstract

This review by Sarason vividly describes how certain personal and social factors can influence vulnerability to stress. The focus is upon life events and social support, and how these and other factors may interact to effect health, illness, and happiness. He points out how the original thinking that all life events (positive and negative) contribute to increased vulnerability has been supplanted by recent data indicating serious repercussions for health and adjustment for negative life events, but neutral or positive consequences for positive life events. There follows a review of the issues in the personality and life events-illness relationship that focuses on both individual differences in personality characteristics such as locus of control and sensation seeking, and on the nature of appraisal of life events. Both factors contribute to the determination of the amount of stress that will be experienced by the individual. The majority of the chapter, however, is devoted to the author’s research on social support. He sets the background by emphasizing the environmental and individual difference perspectives, both essential to an understanding of the influence of social support upon health. His review of the literature provides both answers and questions, as he probes data related to such diverse things as aging, reproduction and birth complications, immune function, job disruptions, chest pain, and asthma. His own research on the topic is rich and thorough.

Keywords

Cholesterol Depression Assure Stein Dition 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Andrews, G., Tennant, C., Hewson, D., & Schoneil, M. (1978). The relation of social factors to physical and psychiatric illness. American Journal of Epidemiology, 108, 27–35.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Auerbach, S.M., & Kilmann, P.R. (1977). Crisis intervention: A review of outcome research. Psychological Bulletin, 84, 1189–1217.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bartrop, R.W., Luckhurst, E., Lazarus, L., Kiloh, L.G., & Penny, R. (1977). Depressed lymphocyte function after bereavement. Lancet, 834–836.Google Scholar
  4. Berkman, L.F., & Syme, S.L. (1979). Social networks, host resistance, and mortality: A nine-year follow-up study of Alameda County residents. American Journal of Epidemiology, 109, 186–204..PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  6. Bowlby, J. (1980). Loss: Sadness and depression. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  7. Bramwell, S.T., Wagner, N.N., Masuda, N.M., & Holmes, T.H. (1975). Psychosocial factors in athletic injuries. Journal of Human Stress, 1, 6–20.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Caplan, G. (1974). Support, systems and community mental health: Lectures on concept development. New York: Behavioral Publications.Google Scholar
  9. Caplan, G. (1976). The family as support system. In G. Caplan & M. Killilea (Eds.), Support systems and mutual help: Multidisciplinary explorations (pp. 19–36). New York: Grune & Stratton.Google Scholar
  10. Cassel, J. (1976). The contribution of the social environment to host resistance. American Journal of Epidemiology, 104, 107–123.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Colerick, E.J. (1985). Stamina in later life. Social Science Medicine, 21, 997–1006.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cooley, E.J., & Keesey, J.C. (1981). Moderator variables in life stress and illness relationship. Journal of Human Stress, 8, 35–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cutrona, C.E. (1986). Objective determinants of perceived social support. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 349–355.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. De Araujo, G., Van Arsdel, P.O., Holmes, T.H., & Dudley, D.L. (1973). Life change, coping ability and chronic intrinsic asthma. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 17, 359–363.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Doehrman, S.R. (1977). Psycho-social aspects of recovery from coronary heart disease: A review. Social Science & Mediane, 11, 199–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Droge, D., Arntson, P., & Norton, R. (1986). The social support function in epilepsy self-help groups. Small Group Behavior, 17, 139–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Eckenrode, J. (1983). The mobilization of social support: Some individual constraints. American Journal of Community Psychology, 11, 509–528.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Eysenck, HJ., & Eysenck, S.B. (1968). Manual: Eysenck Personality Inventory. San Diego, CA: Educational and Industrial Testing Service.Google Scholar
  19. Gore, S. (1978). The effects of social support in moderating the health consequences of unemployment. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 19, 157–165.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Heitzmann, C.A., & Kaplan, R.M. (1984). Interaction between sex and social support in the control of Type II diabetes mellitus. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 52, 1087–1089.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Heller, K. (1979). The effects of social support: Prevention and treatment implications. In A.P. Goldstein & F.H. Kanfer (Eds.), Maximizing treatment gains (pp. 353–382). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  22. Heller, K., & Swindle, R.W. (1983). Social networks, perceived social support and coping with stress. In R.D. Feiner, L.A. Jason, J. Moritsugu, & S.S. Farber (Eds.), Preventive psychology: Theory, research and practice in community intervention (pp. 87–103). New York: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
  23. Holmes, T.H., & Rahe, R.H. (1967). The social readjustment rating scale. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 11, 213–218.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Johnson, J.H. (1986). Life events as stressors in childhood and adolescence. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  25. Johnson, J.H., & McCutcheon, S.M. (1980). Assessing life stress in older children and adolescents: Preliminary findings with the Life Events Checklist. In I.G. Sarason & C.D. Spielberger (Eds.), Stress and Anxiety, Vol. 7 (pp. 111–125). Washington, DC: Hemisphere Publishing Corporation.Google Scholar
  26. Johnson, J.H., & Sarason, I.G. (1978). Life stress, depression and anxiety: Internal-external control as a moderator variable. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 22, 205–208.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Johnson, J.H., Sarason, I.G., & Siegel, J.M. (1979). Arousal seeking as a moderator of life stress. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 49, 665–666.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Jones, W.H. (1985). The psychology of loneliness: Some personality issues in the study of social support. In LG. Sarason & B.R. Sarason (Eds.), Social support: Theory, research and applications (pp. 225–241). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.Google Scholar
  29. Kiecolt-Glaser, J.K., Garner, W., Speicher, C., Penn, G., Holliday, J., & Glaser, R. (1984). Psychosocial modifiers of immunocompetence in medical students. Psychosomatic Medicine, 46, 7–14.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Kiecolt-Glaser, J.K., Speicher, C.E., Holiday, J.E., & Glaser, R. (1984). Stress and the transformation of lymphocytes by Epstein-Barr virus. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 7, 1–12.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Levav, I. (1982). Mortality and psychopathology following the death of an adult child: An epidemiological review. Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Science, 19, 23–38.Google Scholar
  32. Levenson, H., Hirschfeld, M.L., Hirschfeld, A., & Dzubay, B. (1983). Recent life events and accidents: The role of sex differences. Journal of Human Stress, 9, 4–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lindner, K.C., Sarason, I.G., & Sarason, B.R. (in press). Assessed life stress and social support and experimentally provided social support. In C.D. Spielberger & LG. Sarason (Eds.), Stress and anxiety, Vol. 11. Washington, DC: Hemisphere Publishing Corporation.Google Scholar
  34. Mallick, M.J. (1985). A community-based support group for families and patients after acute coronary disease. Public Health Nursing, 2, 43–50.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Manne, S., Sandler, L, & Zautra, A. (1986). Coping and adjustment to genital herpes: The effects of time and social support. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 9, 163–177.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Manuck, S.B., Kaplan, J.R., & Matthews, K.A. (1986). Behavioral antecedents of coronary heart disease and arteriosclerosis. Arteriosclerosis, 6, 2–14.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Mcintosh, W.A., & Shifflett, P.A. (1984). Influence of social support systems on dietary intake of the elderly. Journal of Nutrition for the Elderly, 4, 5–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Medalie, J.H., & Goldbourt, U. (1976). Angina pectoris among 10,000 men: II. Psychosocial and other risk factors as evidenced by a multivariate analysis of a five-year incidence study. American Journal of Mediane, 60, 910–921.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Monjan, A.A. (1983). Effects of acute and chronic stress upon lymphocyte blasto-genesis in mice and humans: “Ofmice and men.” In E.L. Cooper (Ed.), Stress, immunity, and cancer (pp. 81–108). New York: Marcel Dekker.Google Scholar
  40. Pancheri, P. (1980). Psycho-neural-endocrinological correlates of myocardial infarction. Paper presented at NIAS International Conference on Stress and Anxiety, Wassenaar, The Netherlands.Google Scholar
  41. Piatt, J.J., & Spivack, G. (1975). Manual for the Means-Ends Problem-Solving Procedure. Philadelphia: Hahnemann Community Mental Health Center.Google Scholar
  42. Procidano, M.E., & Heller, K. (1983). Measures of perceived social support from friends and from family: Three validation studies. American Journal of Community Psychology, 11(1), 1–24.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Rook, K.S. (1984). Promoting social bonding: Strategies for helping the lonely and socially isolated. American Psychologist, 39, 1389–1407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Ruberman, W., Weinblatt, E., Goldberg, J.D., & Chaudhary, B.S. (1984). Psychosocial influences on mortality after myocardial infarction. The New England Journal of Medicine, 311, 552–559..PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sarason, B.R., Sarason, I.G., Hacker, T.A., & Basham, R.B. (1985). Concomitants of social support: Social skills, physical attractiveness and gender. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 49, 469–480.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sarason, B.R., Shearin, E.N., Pierce, G.R., & Sarason, I.G. (1987). Interrelationships of social support measures: Theoretical and practical implications. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 813–832.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sarason, I.G., Johnson, J.H., & Siegel, J.M. (1978). Assessing the impact of life changes: Development of the Life Experiences Survey. Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology, 46, 932–946.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Sarason, I.G., Levine, H.M., Basham, R.B., & Sarason, B.R. (1983). Assessing social support: The Social Support Questionnaire. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44, 127–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sarason, I.G., Sarason, B.R., Potter, E.H., & Antoni, M.H. (1985). Life events, social support and illness. Psychosomatic Medicine, 47, 156–163.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Sarason, I.G., Sarason, B.R., Shearin, E.N., & Pierce, G.R. (1987). A brief measure of social support: Practical and theoretical implications. Journal of Personal and Social Relationships, 4, 497–510.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Sarason, I.G., & Turk, S. (1983). Coping strategies and group interaction: Their function in improving performance of anxious individuals. Unpublished manuscript, University of Washington, Seattle.Google Scholar
  52. Schleifer, S.J., Keller, S.E., Camerino, M., Thornton, J.C., & Stein, M. (1983). Suppression of lymphocyte stimulation following bereavement. Journal of the American Medical Association, 250, 374–377.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Schulz, R., & Decker, S. (1985). Long-term adjustment to physical disability: The role of social support, perceived control, and self-blame. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 48, 1162–1172.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Smith, R.E., Johnson, J.H., & Sarason, I.G. (1978). Life change, the sensation seeking motive, and psychological distress. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 46, 348–349.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Sosa, R., Kennel, J., & Klaus, M. (1980). The effect of a supportive companion on perinatal problems, length of labor and mother-infant interactions. New England Journal of Medicine, 305, 597–600.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Thomas, P.D., Garry, P.J., Goodwin, J.M., & Goodwin, J.S. (1985). Social bonds in a healthy elderly sample: Characteristics and associated variables. Social Science Medicine, 20, 365–369.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Thomas, P.D., Goodwin, J.M.5 & Goodwin, J.S. (1985). Effect of social support on stress-related changes in cholesterol level, uric acid level, and immune function in an elderly sample. American Journal of Psychiatry, 142, 735–737.Google Scholar
  58. Vinokur, A., & Selzer, M.L. (1975). Desirable versus undesirable life events: Their relationship to stress and mental distress. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 32, 329–337.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Warner, G.C., Bowers, P.M., Rounds, J.B., & Kauppl, R. (1986). Social support, stress, and adjustment to spinal cord injury. Paper presented at the 94th Annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  60. Wasser, S.K., & Isenberg, D.Y. (in press). Reproductive failure among women: Pathology or adaptation? Journal of Psychomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology.Google Scholar
  61. Weiss, R.S. (1974). The provisions of social relationships. In Z. Rubin (Ed.), Doing unto others (pp. 17–26). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  62. Whitcher, S.J., & Fisher, J.D. (1979). Multidimensional reaction to therapeutic touch in a hospital setting. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 87–96.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Wortman, C.B., & Lehman, D.R. (1985). Reactions to victims of life crisis: Support attempts that fail. In I.G. Sarason & B.R. Sarason (Eds.), Social support: Theory, research and application (pp. 463–490). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Irwin G. Sarason

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations