Date of Original Version

Spring 2016



Abstract or Description

Despite the popular use of peer support interventions to improve the interpersonal functioning of patients with mental illness, research into the effectiveness of such programs has returned mixed results. In order to better understand potential moderators of these interventions’ effectiveness, the present study involved the random pairing of two same-sex strangers who took turns engaging in mutual self-disclosure on two separate occasions, separated by one week. A total of 51 same-sex pairs of college students were enrolled in this study. Our aim was to examine whether social competence and existing levels of social support predicted engagement in the interactions, specifically self-disclosure and support provision. Although both social competence and social support predicted engagement in the interaction, social competence appeared to be the more robust predictor. Dyadic data analyses revealed that providing emotional and instrumental support to a partner predicted an increase in one’s liking for and plans to communicate with this partner. The association between emotional support and relationship outcomes was stronger among males than females, whereas the association between instrumental support and relationship outcomes was stronger for females than males.


Advisor: Vicki Helgeson

Department of Psychology

Embargo Date