What is the Right Thing to Say? Agreement among Perceivers on the Supportiveness of Statements

Shawna M. Tanner, Brian Lakey, Jay L. Cohen, Erina L. MacGeorge, Ruth Anne Clark, Sarah Stewart, Lakesha Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Most social support theory implies that there are objectively supportive people and statements. Yet there is little agreement among perceivers that some people are more supportive than others. Nonetheless, there might be better agreement regarding supportive statements. In three studies, children, college students, and members of a clinical training program rated the supportiveness of specific statements presented by text or video. Agreement among perceivers accounted for only 11% of the variance (range = 8%–12%). Perceivers disagreed because of their traitlike perceptual biases, as well as perceivers’ idiosyncratic tastes. Implications for social support theory were discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-339
Number of pages11
Journalbasic and applied social psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 3 2018


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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