The role of support seeker expectations in supportive communication

Stephen A. Rains, Chelsie Akers, Corey A. Pavlich, Eric Tsetsi, Anjali Ashtaputre, Bethany R. Lutovsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


This project examined the influence of social support seekers’ expectations on their perceptions, behaviors, and the outcomes of supportive conversations. An experiment was conducted in which participants were grouped into dyads and randomly assigned to the role of support seeker or support provider. Seekers’ expectations about the (un)helpfulness of providers were manipulated prior to their conversation. Seekers’ expectations influenced their evaluations of the quality of providers’ feedback and, ultimately, the degree to which their emotional distress was reduced. Although seekers’ expectations did not impact the messages they produced, seekers’ discussion volume, use of approach behaviors, and use of avoidance behaviors tended to be associated with the level of person centeredness in providers' feedback.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)445-463
Number of pages19
JournalCommunication Monographs
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2020


  • Social support
  • behavioral confirmation
  • support seeking
  • supportive communication
  • verbal person centeredness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics


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