Social Support in Couples: An Examination of Gender Differences Using Self-report and Observational Methods

Research paper by Lesley L. Verhofstadt, Ann Buysse, William Ickes

Indexed on: 20 Jun '07Published on: 20 Jun '07Published in: Sex roles


We explored gender differences in actual and perceived spousal support in a survey study involving 458 married Belgian couples and in an observational study involving 32 married Belgian couples. Self-reports were used in both studies to assess spouses’ support behaviors and perceived support. These measures were supplemented in Study 2 with measures of observed support behavior and on-line perceived support, as assessed during support interactions. Overall, the self-report measures yielded significant gender differences in support soliciting and support provision, whereas the observational measures did not. Furthermore, the results concerning global and on-line perceived support and support profiles were inconsistent with the “support gap” perspective. These findings were discussed in light of the existing research on gender differences in support and marriage.