Enhancing the Provision and Receipt of Support in Close Relationships

shutterstock_154768973People 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 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.

< go back to research

Relevant Publications:

Chang, V.T., & Overall, N. C. (in press). Biased memories contribute to the links between stress and depressive symptoms. Emotion.

Jayamaha, S.D., Overall, N.C., Girme, Y.U., Hammond, M.D., & Fletcher, G.J.O. (online advance). Depressive symptoms, stress and poorer emotional support when needed by intimate partners. Emotion. doi.org/10.1037/emo0001000

McRae, C. S., Overall, N. C., Henderson, A. M. E., Low, R. S. T., & Chang, V.T. (online advance). Parents’ distress and poor parenting during COVID-19: The buffering effects of partner support and cooperative coparenting. Developmental Psychology. Special Issue: Parenting and Family Dynamics in Times of the COVID-19 Pandemic. doi.org/10.1037/dev0001207

Pietromonaco, P.R. & Overall, N.C. (online advance). Implications of social isolation, separation and loss during the Covid-19 pandemic for couples’ relationships. Current Opinion in Psychology. doi.org/10.1016/j.copsyc.2021.07.014

Pietromonaco, P.R., Overall, N.C. & Power, S.I. (online advance). Depressive symptoms, external stress, and marital adjustment: The buffering effect of partner’s responsive behavior. Social Psychological and Personality Science. doi.org/10.1177/19485506211001687

Cross, E. J., Overall, N. C., Jayamaha, S.D., & Sibley, C.G. (2021). Does low self-esteem predict lower wellbeing following relationship dissolution? Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 38, 2184-2204. doi.org/10.1177/02654075211005843

Hammond, M.D. & Overall, N.C. (2020). Men’s hostile sexism and biased perceptions of partners’ support: Underestimating dependability rather than overestimating challenges to dominance. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 46, 1491-1506. doi.org/10.1177/0146167220907475

Girme, Y.U., Overall, N.C., & Hammond, M.D. (2019). Facilitating autonomy in interdependent relationships: Invisible support facilitates highly avoidant individuals’ autonomy. Journal of Family Psychology, 33, 154-165. doi.org/10.1037/fam0000488

Jayamaha, S.D., & Overall, N.C. (2019). The dyadic nature of self-evaluations: Self-esteem and efficacy shape and are shaped by support processes in relationships. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 10, 224-256. doi.org/10.1177/1948550617750734

Stronge, S., Overall, N.C., & Sibley, C.G. (2019). Gender differences in the associations between relationship status, social support, and wellbeing. Journal of Family Psychology, 33, 819-829. doi.org/10.1037/fam0000540

Girme, Y. U., Maniaci, M.R., Reis, H.T., McNulty, J.K., Carmichael, C.L., Gable, S.L., Baker, L.R., & Overall, N.C. (2018). Does support need to be seen to benefit relationships? Daily invisible support promotes next day relationship well-being. Journal of Family Psychology, 32, 860-872. doi.org/10.1037/fam0000453

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. doi.org/10.1037/fam0000222

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. doi.org/10.1177/0146167215593492

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.org/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.org/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.org/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.org/10.1177/0146167210383045 Download PDF

Watch this space… we have more studies that will soon be published examining support processes in close relationships.