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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Determinants of support provision : interaction of provider and recipient factors Trobst, Krista Kornelia


Little research has examined the determinants of support provision. This study assessed the importance of provider empathy, provider gender, recipient gender, and recipient expressed distress in influencing supportiveness. The study made use of a 2 X 2 (gender of coper by distress of coper) between subjects design, with level of empathy and gender of subject as internal factors. Eighty-one male and 84 female undergraduates completed a measure of dispositional empathy and watched a videotape of a high or low emotion, male or female coper. Respondents then indicated via questionnaire responses, their reactions to the coper and the amounts and kinds of support they would be willing to provide. Subjects were then asked to volunteer to act as a peer counselor to the coper. As predicted, results indicated a positive association between supportiveness and empathy. Also consistent with predictions, greater supportiveness was evidenced among women than among men, and a significant portion of this tendency was attributable to gender differences in empathy. In general, no differences were found in supportiveness as a function of the gender of the coper. Last, high distress copers were liked more, and were perceived as needing more support than low distress copers. In turn, participants indicated a greater willingness to provide support to high emotion copers.

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