Reciprocal support and daily perceived control: Developing a better understanding of daily support transactions across a major life transition.

A paradox of social support has been well documented: believing that support is available and perceiving high levels of it has well-established mental health benefits, but the actual receipt of support is often found to be ineffective and even detrimental (see Gleason & Iida, 2015). Researchers have suggested that support receipt may be associated with negative mood because it is linked with a lack of self-efficacy or perceived control (Bolger & Amarel, 2007). Research on daily support transactions found that reciprocal emotional support exchanges counteracted the negative effects associated with support receipt, but there was significant variation between individuals in their reactions to support exchanges suggesting that a potential moderating variable of the support pattern exists. Using a daily diary study of 78 couples approaching a shared stressor, the transition to parenthood, associations between control, self- and partner-reported support, and mood were investigated. Couples were asked to complete three weeks of daily diaries at three different time points. Previous support pattern effects on mood were replicated for partners, but whereas reciprocity was beneficial for mothers, support receipt alone was not negative. Perceived control was found to be a moderator of this process such that the greater an individual’s sense of perceived control, the more one is buffered from any negative effects of support transactions. Exploratory analyses also suggest that overall patterns of supportive reciprocity influence marital satisfaction across the transition to parenthood. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)