Lending a Helping Hand? Examining Cultural Differences in Social Support



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The aim of the current research was to explore the ways in which culture might influence both the recipient’s and provider’s mental affective states and their feelings towards others following social support transactions. Study 1 examined whether European American and Asian American recipients differed in terms of the likelihood in which they would request support in a given manner (implicit or explicit support seeking) and whether they would be more likely to accept and feel more supported by a specific type of social support (emotional or instrumental support) from a provider. An interaction between culture and type of support in predicting perceptions of support emerged. Results revealed that participants felt more supported after receiving instrumental support versus emotional support and that this was particularly true for European Americans. Study 2 examined whether there were differences between Asian Americans and European Americans in terms of whether they would be more likely to accept or decline a direct request for support. Further, Study 2 sought to determine whether European Americans and Asian Americans differed on internal affective states and feelings towards the recipient following a direct request for support. Overall, findings for Study 2 indicated there were no cultural differences from the provider’s perspective. However, post-hoc analyses uncovered that Asian American men may take on more traditional gender roles relative to European American men, which in turn, influences their provision of support. That is, Asian American men reported feeling more of a responsibility but less negativity towards the help seeker than European American men. Recommendations are provided in order to improve both study designs so as to better elucidate the potential cultural nuances in social support transactions.



Cross-cultural differences, Independent, Interdependent, Collectivist, Individualistic, Caucasian