Social support theory is a psychological concept that explains how individuals cope with stress and other challenging situations. According to this theory, the presence of social support from friends, family, and other significant people in one’s life can help them better handle stressors.

What is Social Support?

Social support can come in various forms, including emotional support, informational support, tangible or instrumental support, and companionship. Emotional support refers to the provision of empathy, love, care, and concern during difficult times.

Informational support involves offering advice or guidance on how to handle specific problems. Tangible or instrumental support includes providing financial assistance or helping with daily tasks such as grocery shopping. Finally, companionship refers to the presence of a friend or loved one who shares similar interests and hobbies.

Types of Social Support

There are three types of social support – perceived support, received support, and enacted support. Perceived social support refers to an individual’s belief that they have access to supportive people in their lives who will provide them with aid if needed.

Received social support refers to the actual receipt of assistance from others. Enacted social support is when someone goes out of their way to offer help or assistance without being asked.

How Does Social Support Theory Work?

Social Support Theory suggests that social connections are vital for human well-being as they provide a sense of belonging and security. When an individual experiences stressors such as illness, financial hardship or relationship issues, having access to a network of supportive individuals can help alleviate the negative effects of such stressors.

Benefits of Social Support

Research has consistently shown that having strong social connections can reduce anxiety levels and improve overall mental health. For example, studies have found that individuals with good social networks are less likely to experience depression than those who lack such connections.


In conclusion, Social Support Theory emphasizes the importance of social connections in human life. The provision of various forms of social support can help individuals cope with stress and other challenging situations. Therefore, it is essential to develop and maintain strong relationships with family, friends, and other significant people in our lives.