Social support: Gender and culture

Ayala Malach Pines, Nurit Zaidman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Despite large bodies of research on gender, culture, and social support, very few studies have addressed all three. The chapter describes a study that investigated the role of gender and culture in the evaluation and utilization of social support among Israeli Jews and Arabs. Four theoretical perspectives were used to derive (different) predictions about the role of gender and culture in the evaluation and utilization of social support: evolutionary, psychoanalytic, social role, and social construction theories. The predictions were tested in representative samples of the Israeli Jewish (N=511) and Israeli Arab (N=505) populations (47% of both samples were men and 53% were women). Participants responded to a questionnaire that focused on the importance of different social support functions, the availability of these functions, the quality of social networks and to whom they turn with different problems. Results demonstrated the universality of the need for support and a number of cultural and gender differences in its utilization. Israeli Arabs were found to be less likely to discuss emotional problems or use professional help and more likely to use familial help. Israeli Jews were more likely to turn to a mate, friends, professionals and superiors. The largest gender difference was in emotional support - rated as more important by women than by men. Women also rated listening and emotional challenge as more important. These and other results support different aspects of the four theories and demonstrate the importance of studying the role of gender and culture in social support.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationSocial Support and Health
Subtitle of host publicationTheory, Research, and Practice with Diverse Populations
EditorsChen Sheying
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9781626186484
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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