Breana L. Bryant & Paul T. Fuglestad
Dr. Paul T. Fuglestad | College of Arts and Sciences | Department of Psychology
Social support is known to help buffer the effects of stress (Uchino et al., 1996). However, in many situations social support is unavailable, and imagining social support may help to reduce the impact of stress. Although imagined physical touch has been shown to be an effective stress buffer, little research has compared it to other types of imagined support (Feldman et al., 2010). Additionally, women tend to seek emotional support, whereas men tend to seek tangible support, but it is unknown if imagining those types of support will reduce stress (Reevy & Maslach, 2001). To gain greater insight into these processes, the purpose of this project was to identify whether imagining supportive touch or emotional social support is best at moderating stress, shown through a measure of perceived stress, heart rate, and blood pressure. Results showed that changes in stress, heart rate or blood pressure did not significantly vary by support condition. This may suggest that a high stress situation may overpower and negate the effects of any type of imagined social support.