Sex Roles

, Volume 30, Issue 7–8, pp 521–541 | Cite as

Gender and social support: Taking the bad with the good?

  • Heather A. Turner


In examining past research, a paradox can be found in the relationships between gender, social support, and depression. Although women report higher levels of depression than men, they also generally report more social support—a factor found to reduce depressive symptoms. In efforts to explain this seeming inconsistency, it was hypothesized that women report both more support and more depression because they are more likely than men to experience both positive and negative aspects of social relationships. Based on a community sample of predominantly Caucasian respondents, findings indicate that greater perceived support among women can be explained by more frequent contact with network members and a tendency to possess relationships characterized by greater intimacy, emotional disclosure, and empathy. However, women also report more frequent negative interactions with network members and are more adversely affected by marital conflict than are men. While negative interactions and conflict cannot account for gender differences in depression, they do help to explain how women can experience both more support and more depression. Among women, the health-enhancing effects of support on depression may be balanced by the detrimental effect of conflict.


Depression Depressive Symptom Social Support Gender Difference Social Psychology 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heather A. Turner
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.University of New HampshireUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyCollege of Liberal Arts, Horton Social Science CenterDurhamEngland

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