Positive partner support is related to stress relief

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Summary: Positive support from partners in a relationship can significantly reduce stress, as indicated by cortisol levels.
The study highlights the importance of how support is perceived, showing that those who generally view their partner as supportive experience lower stress levels.
Key Facts: Positive social support from a partner is linked to lower stress levels, evidenced by reduced cortisol.
Perception of support plays a critical role; individuals who view their partner as generally supportive tend to have lower baseline stress levels.
“How each partner perceived the interaction was highly associated with how supportive and responsive they believed the partner to be more generally.
“Social support and perceived partner responsiveness have complex associations with salivary cortisol in married couples” by Richard Mattson et al.
We coded for positive and negative social support provision and receipt, assessed the perception of received support, and collected salivary cortisol samples.
Exploratory analyses also suggest that cortisol levels coming into an interaction may impact elements of support interactions.


Recap: Cortisol levels show that a relationship’s positive support from partners can dramatically lower stress. By examining the communication between 191 married couples, the study discovered that when partners showed positive support, people felt more validated and cared for, which decreased cortisol levels.

According to the study, people who perceive their partner as supportive in general report feeling less stressed, underscoring the significance of how support is perceived. These results highlight the importance of communication in relationship stress management and open up new avenues for investigation into helpful support practices.

Important Information:.

Cortisol levels drop when a partner provides positive social support, which is correlated with lower stress levels.

One important factor is the perception of support; people who think their partner is generally supportive report lower baseline levels of stress.

According to the study, the tone used when providing support could have a greater influence than the information included.

Binghamton University is the source.

The stress hormone cortisol levels in the body are a good indicator of positive support skills, which makes couples feel more understood and cared for, according to recent research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.

A group of researchers from Binghamton University, led by psychology professor Richard Mattson, studied 191 married heterosexual couples to see if improved communication during social support-giving and receiving resulted in reduced cortisol levels, a hormone linked to stress reactions.

The couples talked about personal matters unrelated to their marriage for two 10-minute sessions. In order to determine the participants’ perceptions of the support they received, the researchers collected saliva samples to measure cortisol levels, and they examined their communication for instances of both positive and negative social support offered and received.

According to our research, wives who experienced greater negative support (e.g. g. , turning down assistance) felt less cared for, understood, and validated by a partner, which had a “stress-amplifying” effect, according to Mattson, where cortisol levels rose during the interaction.

“When partners demonstrated positive support skills, couples felt more understood, validated, and cared for; when partners demonstrated negative communication skills, couples felt less cared for. “.

The researchers were surprised to discover that biological stress levels before the interaction seemed to be a reliable indicator of how couples would behave and interpret each other. Couples’ overall perceived partner responsiveness, which is an evaluation of how well they feel understood, appreciated, and cared for, was another predictor of their behavior and perception.

The study’s principal author, Hayley Fivecoat, created it while a graduate student at Binghamton. At Northwestern University’s The Family Institute, she currently works as a clinical research psychologist.

Fivecoat stated, “Our research more clearly demonstrated how perceptions of support interactions shape our experience.”.

The degree of support and responsiveness that each partner thought the other to be generally was strongly correlated with how they saw the interaction.

It’s possible that opinions about a partner’s level of support can develop over time and through multiple interactions; the overall impression then influences how specific behaviors, whether positive or negative, may be perceived at the time. “.

Alternatively, it’s feasible that various support behaviors are required for various people going through various kinds of issues, in which case examining particular behaviors among couples loses significance.

In any scenario, the people who thought they had a partner who was always there for them generally had the lowest cortisol levels both before and after the interaction. “.

In order to improve relationships and general well-being, the authors think it can be helpful to understand how couples handle and support one another during difficult times.

Different methodologies will be used in subsequent research to evaluate supportive behavior and communication styles. The writers have grounds to think that the discussion’s tone carried more weight than its actual subject. In short, your delivery may be more important than your content.

Further investigation will also look at various couples from different backgrounds, since this study only looked at heterosexual relationships. Prior to the support communication exercise, researchers will also apply a standard stressor.

Since cortisol is just one of many markers of our body’s stress response system, Mattson added, “we are also considering looking at alternative ways of measuring stress at the biological level to understand what effective partner support looks like.”.

The paper also included contributions from psychology professors Nicole Cameron and Matthew Johnson at Binghamton.

Regarding this news about relationships and stress research.

Writer: John Brhel.

Binghamton University is cited.

Binghamton University’s John Brhel can be reached.

Picture: Neuroscience News is credited with this picture.

Exclusive access to original research.

Richard Mattson et al. found that there are complex relationships between salivary cortisol levels in married couples and social support and perceived partner responsiveness. Journal of Interpersonal and Social Relations.


In married couples, salivary cortisol levels are complexly correlated with social support and perceived partner responsiveness.

By lowering cortisol, spouse support may help lessen the negative effects of stressful situations on one’s health.

In order to investigate the relationship between cortisol levels and spousal social support during stressful situation discussions, 191 married couples had two 10-minute conversations about a personal (i.e. E. problem (not marital).

In addition to taking salivary cortisol samples, we coded for positive and negative social support provision and receipt and evaluated the perception of received support.

We discovered that, through an indirect (mediated) effect of perceived partner responsiveness, wives’ increased negative behavior while receiving support was linked to higher cortisol levels in wives.

The data collectively point to a relationship between cortisol levels, support behaviors, and perceived partner responsiveness. Wives were more likely than husbands to experience cortisol effects, and support behaviors were consistently correlated with responsiveness ratings when compared to other paths.

Additionally, preliminary research indicates that aspects of support interactions may be impacted by cortisol levels prior to an interaction. Cortisol’s function and partner receptivity to spousal support are examined, along with the implications.

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