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Providing social support at work matters and spills over to home: a multi-source diary study

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Social support is in its essence a dyadic exchange process – it has important benefits for those who receive and those who provide support. In the present paper, we develop a model integrating insights from mattering and social exchange theories. We propose that self-determined support behaviors satisfy the provider’s feelings of mattering, which have a spillover effect on positive emotions at home. In addition, we hypothesize that positive emotions of the support receiver (co-worker) strengthen this indirect relationship. Hypotheses were tested in a sample of 67 dyads of co-workers (N = 280–305 data points). Results show that autonomous support behaviors positively relate to the provider’s positive emotions during the evening via mattering. Furthermore, employees felt that they mattered more and experienced more positive emotions when they supported co-workers with high (vs. low) positive emotions. These findings advance social support, mattering and spillover literatures by showing that brief episodes of helping behavior can satisfy mattering needs at work and help employees experience more positive emotions at home.

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Data availability

The dataset generatated during and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


  1. In the six-factor model in which autonomous and controlled motivated support loaded on one factor, we fixed the variance of one item from the controlled motivation questionnaire to zero and in the six-factor model in which positive and negative emotions during the evening loaded on one factor, we fixed the variance of one positive and one negative item to zero so that the models could terminate normally.

  2. It could be suggested that the three negative emotions (upset/scared, nervous and jittery) do not correlate sufficient enough to form one factor because the control variable negative emotions during the evening had an AVE less than 0.5, while the composite reliability was not higher than 0.6 (Fornell & Larcker, 1981). Future research may want to combine other negative emotions. For the current model we want to emphasize that this concerns a control variable and our hypothesized model remains the same when omitting the control variables from the model.

  3. We also examined whether the results remained the same without the control variables in our model. Results showed that both the direction and significance of all relationships remained the same. Hence, we conclude that the control variables did not influence our hypothesized model findings, and the results are above and beyond the control variables.


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Authors and Affiliations



Marijntje E.L. Zeijen: Data curation; Formal analysis; Investigation; Methodology; Project administration; Writing – original draft; Writing –review & editing.

Arnold B. Bakker: Conceptualization; Validation; Supervision; Writing – review & editing.

Paraskevas Petrou: Supervision; Validation; Writing – review & editing.

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Correspondence to Marijntje E. L. Zeijen.

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Zeijen, M.E.L., Bakker, A.B. & Petrou, P. Providing social support at work matters and spills over to home: a multi-source diary study. Curr Psychol 42, 30924–30938 (2023).

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