Dual-Process Theory of Supportive Message Outcomes [entry]

Graham D. Bodie, Andrew C. Jones
2015 The International Encyclopedia of Interpersonal Communication   unpublished
In the broadest sense, social support is the process through which social relationships impact a variety of life outcomes from everyday well-being and life satisfaction to m orbidity and mortality. Several researchers have developed impressive research programs that offer one or more explanations as to why social support is beneficial. Work by epide miologists and sociologists has shown that individuals with larger social n etworks have lower risk of mortality, and work by psychologists has
more » ... ychologists has shown that individual perceptions of support availability are strong predictors of immune system function, cardiovascular reactivity to laboratory stressors, and susceptibility to disease. From the perspective of communication scholars, social support is beneficial to the extent that the behaviors enacted to provide support allow individuals to cope with problematic circumstances. Enacted support is what people do within the context of interaction. The nature of enacted behaviors and the mechanisms underlying their effects has been a primary concern of interpersonal scholars for decades. The dual-process theory of supportive message outcomes is a social cognitive theory firmly rooted in constructivism. It shares with constructivism a focus on explaining individual variability in communication skills and concentrates this focus by explai ning the antecedents and consequences of message processing in the domain of supportive communication. The theory's name comes from the larger dual-process framework developed in the field of psychology which includes several "dual process models" that posit that "people's actions (including their responses to messages) are a function of the ways in which they interpret or make sense of events" (Burleson, 2010, p. 166). Communication scholars are likely most familiar with dual-process approaches to human information processing in the context of persuasion. Several theories were formally introduced in the early 1980s in an effort to resolve problems in the persuasion and attitude change literatures. In particular, the dual-process framework offered testable explanations for such puzzling phenomena as the varied (and even contradictory) effects of message, source, receiver, and contextual factors on attitude change; the variable strength and persistence of the attitude change achieved through persuasion; and the variable extent to which attitude change predicted behavioral change. The dual-process
doi:10.1002/9781118540190.wbeic044 fatcat:52c3iiiogjdonder4js42ocd3y