When they support us: Expectations for social support from outgroup members

Shelby N. Carter, Jake Harwood, Stephen A. Rains

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Our research examines perceptions of emotional support messages characterized by high verbal person-centeredness (VPC) when sent from an outgroup versus an ingroup member. We conducted two experiments in which White participants (N 1 = 206, N 2 = 166) imagined receiving a high VPC support message from a White (ingroup) or Black (outgroup) peer. Counter to our hypotheses drawn from expectancy violations theory, both studies revealed that participants perceived high VPC from a Black peer as more expected than high VPC from a White peer. In a highly salient intergroup context (Study 1), high VPC from the outgroup predicted greater perceived support effectiveness and support provider liking and trustworthiness. Implications of our findings for intergroup and supportive communication theory are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-192
Number of pages18
JournalCommunication Monographs
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2024


  • Social support
  • expectancy violations
  • intergroup communication
  • person-centeredness
  • prosocial behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics


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