What Is Supportive About Supportive Conversation? Qualities of Interaction That Predict Emotional and Physiological Outcomes

Jennifer S. Priem, Denise Haunani Solomon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


This study assessed how qualities of supportive interactions, operationalized from the perspectives of the support receiver and third-party observers, predict emotional improvement and cortisol recovery following a stressful experience. Participants (N = 103) conversed with a dating partner after completing a series of stressful tasks; partners engaged in either neutral listening or supportive communication. Participants reported their perceptions of the interaction and their emotional improvement, and provided salivary cortisol samples that indexed changes in stress. Trained third-party observers rated the interactions for supportive qualities. Individually, participants’ perceptions of support explicitness, elaboration, and involvement were positively correlated with emotional improvement, but participants’ perceptions of support explicitness and elaboration were associated with slower, rather than faster, cortisol recovery. When study variables were assessed as a set, participants’ perceptions of explicitness of support were associated with greater emotional improvement and third-party ratings of explicitness of support predicted faster cortisol recovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)443-473
Number of pages31
JournalCommunication Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language

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