Social Support and Undermining in Close Relationships: Their Independent Effects on the Mental Health of Unemployed Persons

Amiram D. Vinokur, Michelle van Ryn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

254 Scopus citations


Structural equation analyses were used to examine the impact of social support vs. social undermining (conflict) on mental health in longitudinal data from 1,087 recently unemployed respondents. The results demonstrated that social support and social undermining were not the opposite poles of the same factor, each having some impact independent of the other. Social undermining had statistically significant and strong adverse impact at each concurrent level of mental health. It also predicted improvement (but not a high level) in mental health in subsequent time waves. In contrast, social support had a significant beneficial impact on mental health only at Time 1. Compared with the volatile and extreme effects of social undermining, those of social support appear weaker but more stable. These findings are consistent with literature on the impact of life events (S.E. Taylor, 1991) and on marital interactions and satisfaction (J.M. Gottman & L.J. Krokoff, 1989).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)350-359
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1993
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this