The effect of communal orientation, type of help, and equity on relationship satisfaction and well being in social networks



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Texas Tech University


Ninety participants pre-selected as high or low on the Communal Orientation Scale (Clark, Ouellette, Powell, & Milberg, 1987) recorded 12,934 total instances (TI) of help. Prompted by 40 examples of help, participants recalled instances of help that occurred in the previous month and identified the social network members involved in giving or receiving in each instance. TI was calculated at the social network level as the sum of instances involving all network members and all types of help. Exploratory analyses examined the effect communality at the level of the network and within 13 help and relationship classifications. Results uncorrected for family-wise error rate showed that participants low in communality differed from those high in communality by reporting: (a) more TI involving family members, and casual and substantial personal assistance involving family members; (b) more TI received from family members and more substantial assistance received from family members; (c) giving casual assistance to a greater number of family members; (d) the perception that emotional assistance provided to friends was more spontaneous (e) the belief that emergency assistance provided by friends was given more spontaneously; (f) the perception that most types of help involving most types of relationships both given and received was less important; and (g) a lower level of relationship satisfaction across the network and involving friends and family. The pattern of results is discussed in relation to Nadler and Fisher's (1982) cluster of recipient defensive reactions.



Social networks, Healing, Helping behavior, Social exchange, Stress (Psychology), Interpersonal relations