Publication Date

Summer 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Cheryl Chancellor-Freeland


collectivism, cortisol, culture, gender roles, individualism, social support

Subject Areas



Though social support has been thought to be an effective coping mechanism for handling distress, this generalization comes with limitations in that social support is highly intertwined with specific characteristics that could alter both help-seeking behavior and its outcomes. The present study examined the effects of cultural differences on the effectiveness of differing social support sources (i.e., parents versus peers) between European American and Asian/Asian American samples, as well as the influence of gender role orientation on social support outcomes. Ninety-Five European American and Asian/Asian American participants were assigned to either a parent or peer social support letter task prior to a psychosocial stressor. Asian American Values Scale-Multidimensional (AAVS-M) measured cultural values, and the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI) assessed gender orientation. The dependent variable was the change in salivary cortisol levels. Though no significant differences were found for cortisol reactivity between and within cultural groups as a function of social support source, results indicated a potential preference in European Americans, relative to Asians and Asian Americans, for parent support, as seen by lower cortisol reactivity. Additionally, relative to peer support, parent support was marginally more beneficial for European Americans. Lastly, there was no significant interaction between gender roles and social support, including analyses on social support type (i.e., emotional and informational support).