Skip to main content
Context-induced Contrast and Assimilation in Judging Supportiveness
Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology
  • Catherine Lutz, University of Dayton
  • Jay L. Cohen, Wayne State University
  • Lynn C. Neely, Wayne State University
  • Sarah Baltman, Wayne State University
  • Susan Schreiber, Wayne State University
  • Brian Lakey, Wayne State University
Document Type
Publication Date
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.
Inclusive pages
Document Version
Published Version

All rights reserved under International Copyright Convention. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, or stored in or introduced into any information storage or retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the written permission of The Guilford Press.

Article is included in repository with the permission of the publisher. Permission documentation is on file.

Publisher information: Guilford Publications, 370 7th Ave., Ste. 1200. New York, NY 10001 / Phone 212-431-9800 or 800-365-7006 / website:

Guilford Press
Peer Reviewed
Citation Information
Catherine Lutz, Jay L. Cohen, Lynn C. Neely, Sarah Baltman, et al.. "Context-induced Contrast and Assimilation in Judging Supportiveness" Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology Vol. 22 Iss. 4 (2003)
Available at: