The relationship of perceived social support and supportive behaviors to individual personality characteristics

Enrique Naim Arsuaga, Fordham University


A number of authors have implicated the potential influence of individual personality characteristics on social support and its function as a stress buffer, as well as an element for psychological well-being (Duckitt, 1984; Henderson, 1977; Hirsch, 1979; Mueller, 1980; Procidano & Heller, 1983; Sandler & Lakey, 1982; Wilcox, 1981). The present study explored the relationship of twenty-one personality traits (as measured by the Personality Research Form AA), and three indices of social support: perceived social support from family (PSS-Fa), perceived social support from friends (PSS-Fr), and socially supportive behaviors (ISSB). Furthermore, the contribution of personality characteristics in the prediction of individual dimensions of social support was also examined. Questionnaires were sent out to a pool of 625 students selected quasi-randomly from the undergraduate student directory. The final sample of respondents consisted of 214 subjects (43 males and 171 females), constituting an obtained 34% response rate. Results indicated that PSS-Fa was related to six personality characteristics, namely affiliation, autonomy (negatively), dominance, exhibition, nurturance, and desirability. Affiliation and desirability together best predicted PSS-Fa. PSS-Fr was related to two of the same personality characteristics, affiliation and exhibition. Affiliation was the best predictor of PSS-Fr. ISSB was related to four of the same personality characteristics, namely affiliation, dominance, exhibition, and nurturance. Nurturance and exhibition together best predicted ISSB. Findings from this study indicate a possible connection of affiliation and exhibition to social support, since these two personality characteristics appear to be one common denominator of the social support indices utilized in this study. Among the personality predictors of social support, the predictors of the perceived support measures were different from the predictors of receipt of socially supportive behaviors. Thus, it appears that some individuals might receive enhanced support, while others are more likely to gravitate towards friends or to family. Further implications on the relevance of the findings regarding the main and buffering-effect of social support, as well as methodological considerations, are also discussed.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Arsuaga, Enrique Naim, "The relationship of perceived social support and supportive behaviors to individual personality characteristics" (1988). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8818486.