Theses and Dissertations


Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


McKinney, Cliff

Committee Member

Nadorff, Michael R.

Committee Member

Nadorff, Danielle K.

Committee Member

Armstrong, Kevin J.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Applied Psychology (Clinical Psychology Concentration)

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Psychology


Supportive messages occur within most relationships. Researchers have found strong relationships between social support and various physical and psychological health outcomes, but the specific mechanisms at work have yet to be fully explored. Many factors contribute to whether a supportive interaction is processed as helpful or supportive by the recipient including relational factors, message content, past experiences, etc. For peer dyads, the context and supportive messages individuals provide their peer may inhibit or contribute to their perception of their peer’s supportive behavior. The current study examined the impact of contextual factors (such as family communication patterns and relationship quality) on message content and the perception of social support within peer relationships. Emerging adult dyads (N = 127) were recruited from a large Southern university in the United States to discuss one of four topics (e.g., a stressful life event, risky sexual behavior, loss of a loved one, discuss a traumatic event) with a peer so that the processes among contextual factors, supportive message content, and supportive message processing could be examined. The association between contextual factors on how individuals processed a supportive interaction was mediated by the content of the supportive conversation. Limitations, strengths, and implications were discussed.