Social support research increasingly draws from research on social cognition. Most of this research has studied assimilation and chronically accessible (i.e., frequently activated) social support constructs. This article presents three studies, in both laboratory and treatment settings, on context-induced contrast and assimilation in support judgments. In each study, participants exposed to positive social contexts subsequently rated supportive stimuli more negatively than participants exposed to negative social contexts. These effects were observed in ratings of participants’ own social networks, the social climate of a residential treatment environment, and a videotaped supportive interaction. In two studies, negative contexts also were associated with increased negative affect and affect-related assimilation. That is, participants with more negative affect rated social environments more negatively than participants with less negative emotion. In some circumstances, context- induced contrast and assimilation counteracted each other. These effects have implications for social support interventions.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/catherine_zois/3/