Social Support as a Determinant of Marital Quality

The Interplay of Negative and Supportive Behaviors
  • Carolyn E. Cutrona
Part of the The Springer Series on Stress and Coping book series (SSSO)


In relationships with others, negative behaviors (criticism, sarcasm, belittling the other) appear to have more impact on morale and satisfaction with the relationship than do positive behaviors (encouragement, comfort, assistance). For example, among caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients, helpfulness of network members was unrelated to distress, but negative or disruptive behaviors by network members were significantly predictive of distress (Fiore, Becker, & Coppel, 1983; Keicolt-Glaser, Dyer, & Shuttleworth, 1988). A similar pattern of results was found among widows (Rook, 1984) and pregnant adolescents (Barrera, 1981). Within the marital relationship, when controlling for frequency of negative spouse behaviors, spouse supportiveness was not significantly related to depression among husbands (Schuster, Kessler, & Aseltine, 1990), although both negative and supportive spouse behaviors were significant predictors of depressive symptoms among wives in this study and in a study of women suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (Manne & Zautra, 1989). Vinokur and van Ryn (1993) found that perceived support from the spouse did not predict depressive symptoms beyond the variance explained by spousal criticism and other negative behaviors.


Social Support Marital Satisfaction Marital Relationship Negative Behavior Marital Quality 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carolyn E. Cutrona
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyIowa State UniversityAmesUSA

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