People supported by intimate partners experience better psychological health, are at lower risk of disease, and live longer. Responsive partner support can also build closeness, and foster greater personal achievement and relationship quality across time. Unfortunately, support can also have costs for recipients, including undermining autonomy, efficacy and competence. Our research attempts to reconcile these benefits and costs by identifying when and for who different types of support are effective. Our studies have demonstrated that even well-intentioned support can be harmful, but that not one way of providing support is uniformly harmful or beneficial. Instead, to be effective, the specific type and level of support needs to address the particular needs of recipients, which is not an easy task. Our current projects are focusing on isolating the individual and dyadic factors that hinder or improve the delivery of support in close relationships.
Some Relevant Publications:
Jayamaha, S.D., Girme, Y.U., & Overall, N.C. (2017). When attachment anxiety impedes support provision: Feeling undervalued when partners are distressed. Journal of Family Psychology, 31, 181-191.
Overall, N.C., Girme, Y. U., & Simpson, J.A. (2016). The power of diagnostic situations: How support and conflict can foster growth and security. In C.R. Knee and H.T. Reis (Eds.), Positive Approaches to Optimal Relationship Development. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Hammond, M.D., & Overall, N.C. (2015). Benevolent sexism and support of romantic partner’s goals: Undermining women’s competence while fulfilling men’s intimacy needs. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41, 1180-1194.
Girme, Y.U., Overall, N.C., Simpson, J.A., & Fletcher, G.J.O. (2015). “All or nothing”: Attachment avoidance and the curvilinear effects of partner support. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 108(3), 450-475. DOI:10.1037/a0038866 [Download PDF]
Girme, Y.U., Overall, N.C., & Simpson, J.A. (2013). When visibility matters: Short versus long term benefits of visible and invisible support. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39, 1441-1451. DOI: 10.1177/0146167213497802 [Download PDF]
Overall, N.C., Deane, K.L., & Peterson, E.R. (2011). Promoting doctoral students’ research self-Efficacy: Combining academic guidance with autonomy support. Higher Education Research and Development, 30, 791-805. DOI: 10.1080/07294360.2010.535508 [Download PDF]
Overall, N.C., Fletcher, G. J. O., & Simpson, J. A. (2010). Helping each other grow: Romantic partner support, self-improvement and relationship quality. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36, 1496-1513. DOI: 10.1177/0146167210383045 [Download PDF]
Watch this space … we have more studies that will soon be published examining support processes in close relationships.