Date of Award

Spring 2003

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Victoria Banyard


Social support research has long focused on one aspect of support, receiving support. The present study expands social support to include both receiving and providing support, applies the ideas of social exchange theory to this expanded concept, and test hypotheses pertaining to this broader definition of social support. The emotional, tangible, and information/advice support received from and provided to sixty-five mothers of young children in their relationships with their spouse, parents, and others was assessed on a weekly basis for four weeks. Greater perceived support from friends and family and greater support received and provided in the relationship with spouse was related to lower stress, greater satisfaction with parenting, lower depression, and more positive coping. Mothers tended to both receive and provide in their relationships. Except for the relationship with spouse, where mothers were equally likely to fall into the over benefited, balanced, and under benefited groups, in each of their relationships mothers were more likely have balanced support over the time period than to have an imbalance of support. Contrary to expectations, support balance over the time period was not related to symptoms of depression, satisfaction with parenting, subjective well-being, or coping as assessed at the end of the calling period. Possible reasons for lack of connection between support balance and outcomes are discussed. Issues pertaining to the measurement of balance of support, as well as participant factors, are considered. Future directions for research on receiving and providing support and support balance are suggested.