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Social Support and Help Seeking in a Changing World

Photo of several people with their arms over each others shoulders

Social support has been shown to positively influence mental health and social outcomes. However, contextual factors such as cultural perceptions, communication styles, social norms, and cognition all influence the ways in which individuals pursue, perceive, and process messages of social support. Over the past few years, COVID-19 and social justice movements have swept the globe, greatly influencing the ways in which individuals seek/offer social support. Individuals from lower socioeconomic status were also disproportionately impacted by recent world events and it is important to examine the differences in the types and sources of support available for these groups. The current study evaluated the ways in which individuals are accessing, communicating, and processing social support across the globe with special attention to some of the contextual factors that may now be in play in this changing landscape.

The project was completed with the help of Psi Chi NICE:CROWD. Collaborators from over 50 different sites worldwide, collected data from 6,366 participants (67.4% or n = 4292 female assigned at birth; average age of 30.76). Data was merged and analyzed as one de-identified data set. Our results show that individuals with cultural values and subjective social status varied across world regions and were differentially associated with social support behaviors. These findings highlight and advance the understanding of how cross-cultural complexities and contextual distinctions influence an individual's perception, processing, and practice of social support embedded in the changing social landscape.

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