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Social Support Theory

What should I know about the social support theory?

The social support theory states that the following types of support influence behavior1:

  • Emotional support (eg, listening, offering a sign of affection)
  • Instrumental/tangible support (eg, financial assistance, babysitting)
  • Informational support (eg, a WebMD article, a piece of advice)
  • Appraisal/esteem support (eg, a vote of confidence, encouragement)

How does the social support theory show up in our work?

The social support theory has taught us that people are more likely to adopt new healthful behaviors if they have strong social support. Therefore, we incorporate mechanisms of emotional support, instrumental/tangible support, informational support, and appraisal/esteem support in the health-promotion programs we design.

Where can I learn more about the social support theory?

Click here or watch the video below to learn more.

Works Cited and Works Consulted

  1. Social and behavioral theories: summary. e-Source Behavior and Social Sciences Research website. Accessed July 1, 2016.
  2. Heaney CA, Israel BA. Social networks and social support. In: Glanz K, Rimer BK, Viswanath K, eds. Health Behavior and Health Education: Theory, Research, and Practice. 4th ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass; 2008:435‑464. Accessed July 1, 2016.
  3. Social support [video]. Mountain View, CA: Khan Academy: September 19, 2014. Accessed July 1, 2016.