Perceived social support as a protective factor in manifest and emotional resilience

Elana C Cohen, Pace University


Individual differences in adaptation to stress suggest that moderator variables mitigate the effects of stress as it affects maladjustment. The present study examined the protective effect of children's perception of social support from family and friends in manifest and emotional resilience. This investigation also sought to increase understanding of different domains of resilience, to determine how children who have experienced environmental stressors are functioning socially, behaviorally, academically, and emotionally. The sample consisted of 90 children who attended an after-school program in Lower Manhattan. Environmental stress was assessed by the Stressful Life Events Scale (Brown, 1985). Perceived social support was measured by The Perceived Social Support from Family and Friends (Procidano & Heller, 1983). Manifest resilience is defined here as social and academic competence, and emotional resilience by levels of depression and anxiety. Social/behavioral functioning was indicated by the Teacher-Child Rating Scale (Hightower et al., 1986). Academic achievement was measured through self-reported school grades. Level of depression was measured by the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale for Children (Weissman, Orvaschel, & Padian, 1980). Level of anxiety was assessed by the Revised Children's Manifest Anxiety Scale (Reynolds & Richmond, 1978). The first hypothesis study stated that perception of social support would moderate the deleterious effects of stress on both manifest and emotional resilience. The second hypothesis proposed that manifest variables would moderate the relationship between stress and emotional functioning. This predicts that children appearing resilient based on manifest measures would be less resilient emotionally. Hypotheses were tested by multiple regression analyses. For the first hypothesis, results indicated a significant interaction between stress and perceived social support from both family and friends for academic achievement only. No significant interactions were found for stress and perceived social support for social competence, depression, or anxiety. For the second hypothesis, results strongly suggest that the relationship between stress and emotional functioning significantly changes as a function of manifest competence. Further examination indicates that the relationship between stress and emotional functioning diminishes as manifest competence increases: a pattern of suppression emerges in that those high in manifest resilience are also higher in levels of depression and anxiety. Implications of these results include a more focused and refined target for intervention programs which seek to enhance psychological well-being. Findings also support resilience as a multi-dimensional construct, as children may be functioning well in certain areas but have greater difficulty in others.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Social psychology

Recommended Citation

Cohen, Elana C, "Perceived social support as a protective factor in manifest and emotional resilience" (1998). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9841831.



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