Support gaps, or discrepancies between the support a person desires and receives, have implications for how effectively people cope with stressors. Existing research commonly uses recall procedures to assess support gaps, considers only immediate outcomes, and does not often assess predictors of gaps. To validate the support gaps framework, participants (N = 200) assessed their desires for support regarding an identity-threatening stressor just prior to a laboratory-based interaction and received support immediately following the interaction. Longitudinal outcomes and the moderating role of ability and motivation were also considered. Participants experienced support gaps, which were associated with their rumination and affect improvement three weeks after the interaction. Ability and motivation influenced the size of support gaps, and ability moderated the effect of a gap in esteem support on participants’ affect improvement. Implications related to an emerging theory of support gaps and the dual-process theory of supportive communication outcomes are discussed.
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